Comfest kicks ass.

Well, Sunday had a brief change of plans, and it was all good.

Got a call from Chris Skrobot, my motherfucking hero, telling me that the X-Rated Cowboys were playing Comfest Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m.in place of someone who was broke her leg and wasn't able to play.

So I called up Mark Nye and asked if there was an opener for Semi Precious Weapons in Cincinnati ... if we left Comfest at 6 we'd get to Cinci about 8 ... SPW show was supposed to start at 8 ... with opener we'd have time.

Mark told me he'd check.

He calls back and says that there's big problems at the venue in Cincinnati and it doesn't look like the show will be happening.

So we hit Comfest. Again.

And the Cowboys, with Tom Boyer filling in on accordian and Ben Lee on bass rocked the Gazebo stage after the Katie Reider Band was finished. And I loves me some Katie, too.

During the show I got a message from Mark saying that the SPW show was indeed cancelled. So we enjoyed the Cowboys: We being me, Kara, Summer & her hubby Bill. When it was over, since we had time to kill, we decide to check the show schedule and see who else is playing.

And we saw this:

8:00 - Off Ramp Stage - TWO COW GARAGE.

Um, to quote me, from my previous blog, FUCK YEAH.

So we get some beer, parade through some smelly hippies, talk to Shaun and grab a prime-soon-to-be-front-row-spot and wait for 8:00 for Two Cow Garage.

And it was even better than Saturday's show at the Treehouse.

Again, I say, FUCK YEAH.

But seriously ... I'm a good photographer. It's damn near impossible to photograph these guys. They rock hard.

Check these pics and see for yourself. Up first is bassist Shane Sweeney. His face is the only thing in focus because he rocks the rest of the world. Then Shane and Dustin Harigle (a.k.a. Jesus on the Drums) rock the world. The Micah Schnabel takes his turn. And finally, this is how the show looks ... non-stop motion. And if you're thinking I've got a shaky camera hand, check out the amp between the two of them. That shit's in prime focus showing you it wasn't camera movement. They rock this hard:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

After that ... we went over to the merchandise stand and each of us bought their CD and rocked it on the way home.

Now it's bedtime. I'm officially rocked out.


Comfest - Day 1 & 2

Well, this has been one of the most rocking weekends of MY life, and it's not over yet.

Quick (real quick) wrap up here, with videos and photos, complete with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, to follow.


Comfest. Swig Tooth.

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Amazing show. Complete show captured in video from the corner of the stage and a shit load of digital and 35mm pictures to come. If you missed this, shame on you for six weeks (that means you, Lauren and Brian).


Andyman's Treehouse. Semi-Precious Weapons.

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If you missed this show, you missed the most amazing Treehouse show since AUE on the 26th, and the second best Treehouse show of the year. And Neal Persiani is an animal on the bass. I met him at the AUE High-Five show. He was a very quiet guy. Very cool. And when I saw him on stage with SPW, he was an unbelievable presence.


Comfest. The Receiver.

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These guys rock. Period. CD should be out in July. You must get it.

Comfest. Watershed.

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Super show as always. Got rocked by the awesomeness that is Watershed. Hung out with Donnette, who we were with Friday for both shows and Saturday for Comfest. Also hung out with the lovely Michelle, who we didn't know was coming. That was a bonus.

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And if you look over my left shoulder that's Lee from Bullet Jones. Yep. We hang with rock stars. Saw a lot of Lee, and Ryan and John and Phil ... the awesomeness that is Bullet Jones. A Bullet Jones show would have totally made Comfest even better than it was. Those guys rock.


Comfest. Willie Phoenix.

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Never saw Willie before. I'm a big fan of Chicago-style blues ... but angry guitar-style blues. And rock. And Willie delivered all of it. He's on my list of guys to see again and again.

Andyman's Treehouse: Two-Cow Garage. Two words: FUCK YEAH. (No, Mr. & Mrs. Mark Nye... not Fuck Maybe. Fuck Yeah.). No pictures of Two-Cow. Was too busy rocking out.

Sunday: (yet to happen, but this is the plan):

Poison Room. Cincinnati. Semi-Precious Weapons. Because Justin is that fabulous. And we get to see Mark Nye play the bass in place of the am zing Neal Persiani.

So check back sometime next week for a complete wrap up with all the details and photos. Same Eric Time. Same Eric Channel.


Damn, I hate hippies.

Selected Comfest ramblings, but first ... know this about me:

My Political Profile:
Overall: 75 Percent Conservative, 25 Percent Liberal
Social Issues: 75 Percent Conservative, 25 Percent Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 75 Percent Conservative, 25 Percent Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 100 Percent Conservative, 0 Percent Liberal
Ethics: 50 Percent Conservative, 50 Percent Liberal
Defense and Crime: 100 Percent Conservative, 0 Percent Liberal

Like my hero Eric Cartman, who is forever imprinted in my right calf as a tattoo, I hate hippies.

Yet I love Comfest ... go figure.

But I had to laugh at the "Raise the Minimum Wage" campaign they had going on this year. Every time I was asked to sign a petition, I asked the same question:

"Do you have a petition to raise the minimum IQ?"

And the answer, three times, was much the same:


Me: "Raise the minimum IQ. Make people smarter. Then they'd get better jobs and make more money. That's basic economics. You understand economics, right?"

Hippie: "Um, yeah."

Me: "So, if you better yourself as a person, and pay attention in school, and learn, and wear real shoes, not shower shoes, or maybe wear your shower shoes, um, to shower more than once a week, you could get a better job making more money."

Hippie: "Um, I guess."

Yeah. Logical arguments mystify hippies.

But back to my man Eric Cartman.

And I quote:

Cartman: I hate hippies! I mean, the way they always talk about "protectin' the earth" and then drive around in cars that get poor gas mileage and wear those stupid bracelets - I hate 'em! I wanna kick 'em in the nuts!"

Like the Al Gore movie Chad is talking about ... how we're killing the planet. Maybe. Maybe not. It's all perception. Yes, I'll see the movie, and no, I'm not making fun of Al Gore. Props to him for trying. He's at least concerned, although he's still a robot from the future.

But back to hippies and the fact that my man Cartman hits it solidly with his rant on hippies and cars.

Because hippies talk about how much damage we do with our cars

Like when we drive to work.

For corporations.

Evil corporations.

That produce other carbon-producing oxygen-depleting greenhouse gases.

While making stuff for us to buy.

And they all walk away, bitching, and smoking cigarettes.

That deplete oxygen.

That produce carbon monoxide.

That create greenhouse gases.

Cigarettes, more-than-likely, made by a corporation. Like Phillip Morris.

Ya see a pattern here?

And then they, in various spots throughout the country, gather at "music" festivals to talk about trying to change the world.

This isn't the 60's.

That shit doesn't work anymore.

The man is hip to your tatics.

But let's look at these "festivals" and the harm they produce:

The first Bonnaroo, in 2002, tied up traffic for two days.

That's a lot of unnecessary greenhouse gases, eh?

Another report from 2002: the traffic jam to get into was massive. Anywhere from 15 to 30 miles long. It took one guy 10 hours to go 30 miles to the exit. If you have 90,000 people attending, figuring 6 people per vehicle, that's Multiply that by 15,000 cars ... that's 150,000 hours of cars basically idling ... that's 17 days - TWO AND A HALF WEEKS - worth hippies in cars sitting there burning up fossil fuels creating greenhouse gases that deplete oxygen and produce carbon monoxide.

So they can gather and talk about how bad we're polluting the earth.

And you can bet they were smoking, too.

And smelling.

Because hippies smell, right Cartman?

"Hippies.They're everywhere. They wanna save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad"

In 2003, they say, it was only half as bad. So 90,000 hours.

And it's gotten better.

But there are a lot of jam band hippie festivals that inspire traffic.

Like we had this year at Comfest.

So yeah, once again, Jim Quinn's first law of liberalism is proven true:

Liberalism always produces the exact opposite of its stated intent.

Hippies wanna get together and talk about trying to change the world and cut pollution and reduce our dependence on foreign oil ... yet since the early 70's they haven't change shit ... their cars burn tons of foreign oil, increase pollution ... and all the cigarettes they smoke and toss on the ground when they're done do nothing for the environment, either.

And they smell.

Yeah ... there, I've said it.

Take that, hippies.

And take a shower while you're at it.


A Letter from a Senior Citizen

Dear America,

I am a senior citizen.

During the Clinton Administration I had an extremely good and well paying job.

I took numerous vacations and had several vacation homes.

Since President Bush took office, I have watched my entire life change for the worse.

I lost my job.

I lost my two sons in that terrible Iraqi War.

I lost my homes.

I lost my health insurance.

As a matter of fact I lost virtually everything and became homeless.

Adding insult to injury, when the authorities found me living like an animal, instead of helping me, they arrested me.

I will do anything I can to insure that Democrats are back in control of the Senate in the November elections.

The Republican Party has got to go.


Saddam Hussein


Save the Internet.

(Yeah, I know ... this, right after I blast hippies and praise corporations. But seriously ... copy and paste this shit (below this) and put it everywhere. I took this from another site ... you can take it from here:)

The Internet is in trouble.

Big Trouble!

Let us make this simple:

Telecommunication companies want to charge websites different prices for moving different types of data across "their" lines.

If you host videos and other "bandwidth intensive" content, your hosting bill will go up!

The days of free streaming audio and video content from your favorite sites, like MySpace, Yahoo, and others, like Google, and YouTube will be gone!

The problem is that if we allow the telecommunications companies to decide which data is more important and should be moved faster, they're going to pick the data that they are getting PAID the most for.

Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.org explains where this will lead in this article on CNN.com:

Let's say you call Joe's Pizza and the first thing you hear is a message saying you'll be connected in a minute or two, but if you want, you can be connected to Pizza Hut right away. That's not fair, right? You called Joe's and want some Joe's pizza. Well, that's how some telecommunications executives want the Internet to operate, with some Web sites easier to access than others. For them, this would be a money-making regime.

This issue and fight revolves around the concept of Net Neutrality. The concept is that everyone and every type of data gets equal access to the data pipes that make up the internet.

As Craig Newmark says, "When the Internet is neutral, everyone can use it, just like everyone can use public roads or airwaves. All businesses on the Internet get an equal shot at success."

The lobbyists for the telecommunication companies say that they'll only charge extra for "premium routing".


Billy-Bob Smith, the CTO for BellSouth in Altanta told told the Washington Post he should be able to charge Yahoo extra so that its search engine would load faster than Google's.

In his own words, "If I go to the airport, I can buy a coach standby ticket or a first-class ticket," Smith said. "In the shipping business, I can get two-day air or six-day ground."

Also, don't think we're just talking about video files!

Anyone got a Vonage line? Yeah, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is FUCKED if this goes through.

Think about it, the companies pushing for these laws are the PHONE companies.

They'd just love to force you back to paying ridiculous rates for local and long distance calling!

The Internet was FOUNDED on the idea of equal access. It has thrived and pushed our economy on this principle.

Do not think this is just some greedy grab of the Telco Industry that won't get anywhere!

It is hard to believe, but lawmakers in the House of Representatives have ALREADY passed a law (the COPE Act) allowing this.

The Senate is now debating a similar law (The Consumer's Choice and Broadband Deployment Act).

Time to get involved fuckers! Do something to protect YOUR Internet!

Look, we're not asking you to spend any money. Just post on your blogs, email your friends, let everyone know what's going on!


If you never do anything else for any cause for the rest of your life, HIT THIS LINK!

It'll link you over to a page on SaveTheInternet.com with a list of seven things you can do to help the fight.

The first link is the easiest. It gives you a form to fill in that will email your representatives in Congress. Believe it or not, this shit works.

You tell these fuckers that you care about this and that you VOTE.

Enough of us do this and the fuckers will actually listen.

Not that they give a fuck about us or our opinions. But they damn sure want to get reelected!

For those looking for extra credit or who are actually interested, here's some more useful links:

Craig Newmark's Article on CNN.com

Internet Activist Cory Doctorow's Article on InformationWeek.com

Wikipedia Definition of Network Neutrality

SaveTheInternet.com - EVERYTHING You Need To Know!

(Feel free to copy and post this everywhere. I got it from one of my favorite sites, http://www.consumptionjunction.com.)


Random Thoughts #7

Weird ramblings from my mind.

If that's not enough of a warning, there's no hope for you.


Before I start, I have to share this: Bob Saget is God.

Yesterday I'm sitting at work on Monday and realize that Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals is on at 8 p.m.


So I can watch it.

And I realize I've watched the same number of hockey games on television this year as I did last year.

And there wasn't a hockey season last year.

Because I don't have OLN. Because Insight Cable sucks. And I won't pay for the digital service to get it because I don't need two digital boxes (I have two TV's) and if you have digital on one and analog on another they channels are differently numbered. Now that's confusing. Comedy Central in the bedroom is 35, in the living room is 23521 or some other number. That's bullshit of an unacceptable level. So I dropped it. And their "high-speed internet" was so slow I couldn't stand it. So I got basic cable with them, so my channels are the same in both rooms, and DSL. Which I love.

But back to hockey. Since I was planning on being home doing nothing after recovering from the super awesome road trip last week, I might as well veg out and watch Game 7 so I can at least get one game in this year, and continue my tradition of seeing the Stanley Cup awarded every season THERE WAS A SEASON since 1984.

Cause that's how I roll.

So I figured I might as well see what the headlines and hypelines are for this Game 7.

Hello Google.

And as I'm looking over the Toronto papers, because lets face it, the best hockey writers live in Canada, I find a link about Pride Week in Toronto.

And no, that's not a "Gee we're glad to be Canadian" thing ... that's where the gay people all get together and celebrate their gayness.

Shocking, eh?

And for today's "Oh, Eric" moment, lemme tell you ... those people know how to party.

And since I'm a fan of a couple of Canadian singer/songwriters who quite possibly might be lesbians, or at least bisexual, I figured I'd pop over to see if they were part of the festivities.

So I click over to the Pride Toronto website and while looking over the various pictures, stumble upon the general information page about the committee, and see the following "About Us" statment that gave me several thoughts.

But before I give you my take on it ... here's the statement:

Pride Toronto exists to celebrate the history, courage, diversity and future of Toronto's LGBTTIQ2S* communities.
* Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, 2 Spirited

My Take:

Remember when people were just gay? Men were gay, women were gay. Or, as Robin Williams says, the men wore tights and the women wore comfortable shoes.

Now we have this list from Pride Toronto, and my simple-to-remember-definitions:

  • Gay - a man who likes men.
  • Lesbian - a woman who likes women.
  • Bisexual - a man or a woman who likes men and women.
  • Transexual - a man who dresses like a woman; a woman who dress like a man. Not necessarily gay.
  • Transgender - a man who believes he should be a woman; a woman who believes she should be a man.
  • Intersex - those who feel they're both a man and a woman. At the same time.
  • Queer/Questioning - Those who don't know.
  • 2 Spirited - I'm guessing this one is exclusive to Canada, where native Canadians have their own rights and special recognition, unlike America, where native Americans (formerly known as Indians (feather) to keep them separate from Indians (dot)) have zero rights (sorry, channeling my hippie sister again. She's a member of the Wannabe Tribe of natvie Americans. Anyway ...) I'm also guessing that 2 Spirited apparently is for native Canadians who are any of the above ... but native Canadian first.
Maybe it's me ... but for a country (Canada) that makes it a point to tell the rest of the world just how much they care about every single Canadian, and that everyone in their country, despite the differences that make their country great, is a Canadian first ... they sure go out of their way to make sure everyone has a label.

Speaking of labels, and gay people, how many times have you heard the call for "gay rights"? It's everywhere. Especially with the idiotic Republican focus on gay marriage. I've said it before, I'll say it again. You can't help who you love. And it's not like hetrosexual people have been successful at this marriage thing (I'm a two-time loser myself).

What kills me is the line in the sand. The left talks about "equal rights for all people" and the right talks about the "gay agenda" ruining the country. It's all under the umbrella of gay rights.

What's funny about that line, to me, is there are even more sharply defined lines in the gay community that gay people have set up to keep the groups of gays separated and segregated according to their preferences and likes.

Now for the record, I'm not gay. To work off a routine stolen from Will Durst, I have two reasons:

  1. My doctor says I have a narrow throat.
  2. I love pussy.
But I have spent some time, including a couple of days last week in Provincetown, in primarily gay communities. My friends when I lived in the Virgin Islands were a gay couple (Bob & Jay) who kept us entertained, well-fed and knew all the fun spots to go tourist-watch. My neighbor in the VI was so gay his mom thought he was straight. He was so gay that gay people called him gay.

Bob once said, "ya know, I'm gay. But he makes me look straight." I worked for a gay guy when I did finish construction who told me he'd much rather have me as his office boy for two reasons - one was he wanted me, two was becuase I wasn't a good carpenter. But the only thing I tried was carpentry. He was scary.

But back to the segregation in the gay community:There are multiple variations of gay men. Here are the ones I could think of right off the top of my head:

  • Straight-acting - the regular guy you never suspect is gay. Hides all aspects of gayness from everyone.
  • Masculine - normal looking guy in all regards who is gay. Looks like a man. Acts like a man. Just so happens to sleep with a man as well.
  • Flamers - that's obvious.
  • Athletic - Totally built guys who spend all their time working on and admiring their own bodies. Also referred to as buff bois - (yes, spelled that way). Shirtless, showing off sculptured bodies. Look like they just came out of the Abercrombie catalog.
  • Fems - usually thin, wear makeup, act effeminant and are experts on style and clothing. You mainly see this genre of gay man portrayed on television.
  • Leathermen - Wear lots of leather, usually black and shiny.
  • Bears - Big hairy guys, with beards, furry backs and hairy chests.
  • Twinks - Thin, skinny, smooth-skinned guys, but not effeminate.
Very rarely will these groups EVER intermix. In fact, most of the time, they are so separate you'd think they were different species, which, according to some gays, they are.

And it's the same with gay women, although the divisions are smaller:

  • Dykes - out and proud and showing it off.
  • Man-like - out, and obvious, with bad haircuts, either spiked or mulleted, tend to wear jeans and flannel. Are often mean looking, territorial and dominant.
  • Feminine - Mostly girly girls, wear fashionable clothing, enjoy all things most straight women like (shopping, chick flicks, etc.).
  • Versatile - neither masculine or feminine, not defined by gender roles, just a normal woman in all outward appearances who just happens to like other women.
Lesbians, for the most part, are much more likely to intermix with other types of lesbians, because women, genetically, are much more accepting than men.

But it's funny for a group that says they don't want special rights, but equal rights ... just how prejudiced they are amongst themselves.

Anyway ... I'm about out of ideas as to what else to write about. I'm still in recovery mode.

My apartment's a mess.

My office is a mess.

I have seven days of work left.

I have so much to do.


Corporate Memos Gone Bad

I know I haven't written The Roadtrip - Day 5 yet ... it's coming.

But I had to share this ... a corporate communication from my company regarding a change in benefit providers. This isn't the whole thing, just the paragraph that makes me think like our help desk and most operations, HR and memo writing for HR has been outsourced to India, too:

Effective July 1, 2006, the administration of your STD plan will be transitioned to (Name of new Insurance Provider Removed). Because (Name of new Insurance Provider Removed) is our standard insurance carrier, we now have an opportunity to more efficiently integrate these two programs. If you are eligible for STD, your 2006 benefits will remain the same with some administrative changes. Please access the Summary Plan Document, found in the Benefits Center on our intranet, for a detailed description of the plan.

(Name of new Insurance Provider Removed) will be sending you an ID card along with more detailed information about their role in handling STD claims. The letter and ID card will be sent to your home address the week of June 19, 2006 and will include a 1-800 number for use when initiating a claim.

For the record, the STD they're referring to is Short Term Disability. However, that's not spelled out, anywhere. I know, because I called our Benefits people and asked.

Because, seriously, the last thing you want to read about from your corporate insurer is an email telling you how to file STD claims.

And the phrase "If you are eligible for STD ..." is a new low in bad memo writing.


June Roadtrip, Day 4

Day 4 in the WeAreThatFuckingCool, Inc., Summer Spectacular Roadtrip, Version 2, hit a snag.

Started off great. Woke up at 4:30 a.m. after more than 7.5 hours of sleep.

Sometimes, pulling a Lauren is a good thing. (For the record, Lauren is was our friend who we tease about being in bed by 9 p.m.)

Got out of the hotel by 5:10 a.m.

Got some Dunkin Donuts coffee & breakfast. I went up to the counter, ordered two extra-large coffees. The donunt waitress asked if I wanted cream. I said "No." Kara said, "Um, I want cream in mine." I said, "Those are both for me." Kara said "Oh."

And ordered her coffee.

Then we filled out our postcards and mailed them.

Then we were on the road, on the way off the cape, right on schedule.

And we stayed on schedule until New Jersey, where construction on the New Jersey Turnpike had us stopped from the time we got a toll ticket until the Newark Airport Exit, which is about 8 miles, but still, shitty traffic.

We were about 30 minutes behind at that point. No biggie. We made some of that up on the Garden State Parkway (I-78) by getting into the fast lane that was going, on average, between 75 and 80 mph.

Then we got into Pennsylvania.

And that's where it all went to pot.

Not too sure what happened, but I think someone died.

Not sure who.

But odds are it wasn't pretty.

I base that on the following facts:
  • When you're sitting stopped on the interstate.
  • For over two hours.
  • And the only thing you've seen come the other way is a medical emergency helicopter.
  • And an ambulance with full lights and sirens.
  • And you haven't moved for two hours
  • And you can't see the front of the line of traffic that's stopped in front of you.
  • And you can't see the end of the line of traffic that's stopped behind you.

Whatever plans you had for the day are pretty much shot.

So odds were against us making it to Cincinnati to see Autumn Under Echoes Swigtooth show on Saturday night.

And after more than two hours of sitting, stopped, on the Interstate, we were moving again.

By the time we got moving again, and got to the scene, there was nothing but a bit of broken glass.

And a white-trash mom and kid who walked up there, while we were all stopped, with a digital camera.

That alone didn't make them white trash.

The fact that dad, who stayed with the shitty pickup truck was wearing a white t-shirt with someone's signatures all over it in sharpie ... didn't make them white trash.

And the fact that mom was wearing a halter top and cut-off jeans shorts ... didn't make them white trash.

And the fact that kid of unknown sex due to hair length and style was sloppily dressed ... didn't make them white trash.

But all of those facts COMBINED the fact that they walked about a mile up the interstate to take pictures of someone else's misery ... AND the fact that while they were gone the dad not only changed a tire in the pickup truck on the highway while we we all stopped with tools including hydraulic jack he took out of the lock box on the back of the pickup truck and the fact that they had a full-size spare and the fact that when he was done he LEFT THE FUCKING TRUCK SITTING IN THE DRIVING LANE and walked up, shirtless, to fetch his woman and mutant offspring made them white trash.

And they weren't the only white trash we saw.

After looking at the clock, factoring how long we had been sitting there, adding the time it was now to the time it would take to drive from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh to Columbus to Cincinnati ... and after realizing we had no chance to make it to Cincinnati without defying the laws of physics and possibly causing harm to us, or others, or my car AND my trunkful of Snapple ... we decided to make alternate plans.

And since we were an hour east of Harrisburg ... we went to Hershey Park (again). This time - no cheerleaders, so we got to take the Chocolate Factory tour.

And saw a seriously amazing femullet that was in line with us:

And yes, we did buy some chocolate.

And then took the scenic route back through Pennsylvania (that's US 322 from Harrisburg to State College, then I-80 to Hermitage) where we stopped to spend the night so I could have breakfast tomorrow with my daughter on Father's Day, and see my Dad before driving back to Marion to see Kara's Dad on Father's Day.

Which is where I am now. Hermitage. Sitting in a hotel lobby because their wireless sucks and won't reach our room.

But it's working in the lobby.

Where I can hear a shitty jazz band play.

Which is no Swig Tooth, who we'd have much rather heard tonight.

And granted, the drive through Pennsylvania was nice.

And it's rare siting a mullet that magnitude, so that is noteworthy ...

And seeing my daughter ... and my dad ... is always nice, especially on invented Hallmark holidays like Father's Day ...

And yes, I know, it was all the result of a series of events that took us away from what we wanted to do ...

And yes, I know, even a mullet of that plumage in Hershey is no where near as fulfilling as a Swig Tooth show in Cincinnati ...

But I also know this: We're alive.

And in one piece.

Which is better than the person who was in the ambulance that screamed past us as we were sitting, stopped, on I-78 in Pennsylvania.

And far better than the person who was in the helicopter that was airlifted from a field beside I-78 in Pennsylvania.

And far better than anyone else involved in that accident.

Or anyone who is waiting at home for them to return.

If they return.

So on the whole, I really can't complain too much.

Happy Father's Day.


June Roadtrip, Day 3

Day 3 in the WeAreThatFuckingCool, Inc., Summer Spectacular Roadtrip, Version 2, is complete.

(Posted Saturday morning at 4:42 a.m. because the cable and cable internet at the hotel was down on Friday)

Friday morning - Wellfleet, MA

7:30 woke up.

8:15 leave for Provincetown

8:30 Make a wrong turn (totally Eric's fault) trying to take the shoreline entrance to Provincetown. End up driving down Commercial Street.

8:50 Arrvie at McMillian's Wharf. Park.

9:00 Get tickets for Whale Watch

9:10 Get breakfast from Portuguese Bakery. Yum.

9:15 Get in line for Whale Watch boat leaving at 10.

9:25 Are 3rd and 4th person on Whale Watch Boat. Proceed to the front (that's the bow) and take up our typical Front Fucking Row seats (see blogs on Gomez, Wilco and repeated AUE shows for details).

10:00 With three toots of the big horn on the boat, we are underway.

10:01 until 1:15 p.m. - Stellwagen Bank and whale watching.

Us. On The Boat.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

We saw four finback whales. Finbacks are the second largest animal on the planet. Kara, who has a fear of un-normally large things (like planes, and whales) was thrilled by these aquatic mammals. They can be up to 90 feet long. The whales we saw were between 50 and 70 feet long.

The naturalist onboard the whale watch boat was shocked to see two finback whales lunge-feed on the hordes of sand eels that were in the water ... she said in 21 years of whale watching, including 10 on cape Cod, she's never seen an open-mouthed finback lunge feed until our trip.

I have that shit on video ... old school camcorder video ... that I'll have to capture to PC and then post after we get home on Sunday.

And then we saw three humpback whales, including Rapier and her new calf, nursing, and another humpback that the naturalist couldn't readily identify.

I'll sum up the whale watch with this ... it was fucking amazing. Seeing them, in their environment, made me cry. And this was my 5th whale watch since 1999, so it's not like it's a new thing to me.

For Kara, on her first, she was quite amazed. I'm sure she'll post her thoughts.

After we got off the boat we went to the Landmark Restaurant and had some amazing burgers. Not Tessaro's good, but damn near close. And talked to Larry, the co-owner, who was waiting tables, bartending, and probably cooking as well. Very funny man.

Then it was shopping.

On Commercial Street.

Kara bought some body lotion and a candle holder, and a hoodie that they made for her .. she said I want this design on this color in this size and BAM ... there it was in less than 2 minutes. Pretty Fucking Cool.

And postcards to send home ... and t-shirts. And souvenirs. And and and and Kara bought four books at the used book store that prompted a pretty long discussion with the book store owner about the various segregations in the state of Ohio when it comes to colleges and people.

Then we realized how exhausted we were and headed back to the hotel. We got some Dunkin Donuts coffee (well, I did) and found out they open at 5 a.m. (YAY ... coffee on the way out of town tomorrow). And some really bad subs.

But we had pretzels and cookies in the room.

And no internet ... apparently it was down. So this might get posted on Friday ... or it might wait until Sunday when I'm home.

But that was it. We were in the room by 5:30. Tired. Sunburned. And worn out.

I was asleep before 9 ... I totally pulled a Lauren. Kara read for a while. Don't know when she fell asleep.

Tomorrow - we're up at 4:30 and on the road at 5 to get to Cincinnati for Autumn Under Echoes.


June Roadtrip, Day 2

Day 2 in the WeAreThatFuckingCool, Inc., Summer Spectacular Roadtrip, Version 2, is complete.

Thursday morning - Lakewood, New Jersey
7:00 woke up.

7:45 had bagels and cereal at the hotel as their "deluxe continental breakfast."

8:00 not impressed with "deluxe continental breakfast." Leave hotel.

8:15 Walking through Target checking out iPod stuff because we have time to kill before leaving because we don't want to fight rush hour traffic up the Garden State Parkway / New Jersey Turnpike heading towards New York City.

9:00 Visit Shop 'n' Save. For Snapple.

9:01 Realize Shop 'n' Save is a retirement community. Seriously. There were old people everywhere. We saw two kids. In a grocery store on a Thursday morning. TWO KIDS. With the exception of those two kids and their mothers, you could have added my age to Kara's age and we were still the youngest people shopping.

9:20 We did not see a blue-haired old lady in the parking lot. We saw a purple-haired old lady. Purple.

9:30 Trunk full of seven cases of diet lemon snapple (Hey, at 6.75 a case who can say no?), one case of diet lemonade iced tea snapple and one case of diet cranberry raspberry snapple. And our suitcases. And it all fit. I love my car.

10:14 On the Garden State Parkway heading north.

11:15 Drive past Newark Airport. Kara hates large planes in the sky, as they appear to be hovering. Kara is scared and thrilled as planes land and take off around us as we head towards the George Washington Bridge.

11:30 Realize there is not one but two blimps somewhere over the city. Why? We don't know. Kara hates blimps. For the same reason she hates planes. Things that are too big -- bigger than they should be -- fascinate and scare her simultaneously. She's scared and excited to be on a big boat going out in the big ocean to look at big mammals tomorrow. (Whales are mammals. Look it up.)

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Photo by Kara

11:45 Drive by Shooting - New York City

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Noon Waiting in line at the GWB to pay our six dollars to cross.

12:15 Crossing the George Washington Bridge

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Photo by Kara

(Rest of these times are approximate)

1:15 Learned why there are two blimps over the city. The US Open Golf Championship is in town. Makes sense.

1:30 Connecticut. Waved near the Hartford exit for Michelle.

3:00 Enter Rhode Island

3:02 Leave Rhode Island (hey, it is the smallest state in the union).

4:00 Arrive in Massachusetts (Yeah, we really took an hour in Rhode Island. The above timeline is a joke.)

4:01 Greeted in Massachusetts by the remnants of Hurricane / Tropical Storm / Tropical Depression / Cloud formation Alberto.

5:00 Welcome to Cape Cod.

6:00 Arrive at our hotel in Wellfleet.

7:00 Arrive at Provincetown, Mass.

8:00 Eating Pizza made by Russians. Yummy.

8:30 Walking down McMillian Wharf looking at the ocean. Where I took the picture that's my new Desktop Wallpaper on my computer.

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8:45 Bought Kara a Ben & Jerry's Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Cone ... her favorite flavor ... from the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream shop.

9:00 Shopping / Walking down Commercial Street.

9:30 Shopping at the Don't Panic store. Great shirts. Really really really funny stuff.

10:00 Taking pictures with the Pilgrim Monument in the background, under the pier (yep, low tide) and on the beach at night.
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10:30 Checking out the shops and people of Provincetown.

11:00 Back at our hotel, ready for sleep.

Tomorrow - Stillwagen Bank & Humpback Whales (and probably some Finbacks, too) and breakfast from the Portuguese Bakery. YUMMMMMMMMMY.


June Roadtrip, Day 1

(Post delayed to the fact that our hotel in New Jersey didn't have wired or wireless interent. WTF year is this?)

Stop 1 in the WeAreThatFuckingCool, Inc., Summer Spectacular Roadtrip, Version 2, is complete.

We left Columbus at 10:07 a.m. on Wednesday.

We arrived in New Jersey at our hotel without making a single wrong turn thanks to Microsoft MapPoint and the lovely navigational skills of Kara. Who's awesome even on 2 hours of sleep. (She worked last night, tried to sleep, but roofers across the street had her awake waaaay too early).

So why the late start then?

Well, I had to go take a certification test.

CompTIA's Server Plus.

Which I passed.

Yay me.

So we took off. Ran into little traffic, a bit of rain, and not much else.

Except for the town that time forgot at Exit 173 off Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania.

We see signs of civilization - Pilot Station, T/A Truck Stop, Subway, McDonalds. We figured that was the place to go.

We figured wrong.

First, the bathrooms at the T/A were aptly named - Totally Awful.

Second, we go in to get a Subway Sandwich and the dude behind the counter looks at us and says, "Sorry. My bread's cooling. You'll have to wait like 20 minutes."

Um, you run a fucking subway at a truck stop on a major interstate and you're out of bread? WTF?

Third, I buy a Diet Code Red Mountain Dew from cashier-girl who was too busy on the phone to as much as say hi.

So we leave, dejected, wanting subway. And realize that there is another Subway at the Pilot Truck Stop.

So we drive under the interstate and find that it's not yet open.

So we're left with McDonads.

We pull up and get welcomed by the soothing almost-robotic sound of "Welcome to McDonald's."

I order a six-piece Chicken Nuggets.

Kara orders a McChicken.

That's all.

We pull up after listening to the robotic voice tell us our total. With difficulty. Like the programming's faulty.

And when we get there ... it's not a robot.

It's a moron.

Named Jeremey.

Who tells us they're out of McNuggets and they have to make fresh ones so we should pull up and he'll bring them out.

So it took us 5 minutes to get McNuggets.

And Jeremey's programming was faulty. I don't know what kind of people live in this town, but I think they're all related.

Anyway ... we've all had old McNuggets. That's a taste you don't forget.

When Jeremy eventually brought me the McNuggets ... they tasted old. So I don't know where the "fresh" ones he was referring to went.

Oh, and the Diet Code Red? Expired 10 days ago and tasted very stale. I think I had two drinks.

So, avoid at all costs Exit 173 off Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania.


The rest of the trip? No problems at all. Got to the club. Met Justin, who is awesome. He is the singer for Semi-Precious Weapons. We also met his Mom, who is a very cool woman.

And Justin hooked us up with the Semi-Precious Weapons CD.

And made us damn excited for their show in Columbus at Andyman's on June 23rd starting about 11:45. After Autumn Under Echoes show at ComFest, Friday, 9 p.m., Main Stage. Oh Yeah.

Glam rock in the Treehouse.

But Wednesday night was great rock at the Saint. And The Saint is a great club. It has had a bunch of cool-ass bands play there over the years. Posters on the wall were amazing.

Saw a great show by Swig Tooth.

Met a friend of Dan's.

Had a very late night breakfast at a diner.

Nearly ran over a Jewish guy in Lakewood, New Jersey.

HEY - I appreciate and respect your ability to hold on to the ancient beliefs of your Orthodox Religion, but lemme give you a tip:

When it's midnight
And it's dark
And you're wearing a black hat
And you're wearing a black overcoat
And you're wearing black pants
And you're crossing the street NOT at an illumniated crosswalk
And you're crossing the street NOT in ANY crosswalk
And you're crossing the street at the bottom of a hill

Don't make me out to be the bad guy and shake a fist at me.

Next time I'll hit you.

And take your hat.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we're bound for Cape Cod.


It's a roadtrip.

Because we're either insane, or thatfuckingcool, inc.

So many song lyrics ... so little time:

"Staring at the greater Americana" - Swigtooth

"I'm on my way. I don't know where I'm going" - Paul Simon

"With nothing to do but look through the passenger window" - X-Rated Cowboys

You get the point.

In case you're wondering -- yes, we are insane.

We are traveling from Columbus to Asbury Park, NJ for an Autumn Under Echoes Swigtooth show on Wednesday, June 14th, at the Saint.

Then driving to Cape Cod for whale watching and hanging out in Provincetown. (No, we're not gay, or lesbian. But thanks for asking)

Then we're driving from Cape Code to Cincinnati for an Autumn Under Echoes Swigtooth show on Saturday, June 17th, at Coopers on Main.

Then driving back home to Columbus, for, you guessed it, an Autumn Under Echoes Swigtooth show on June 18th at The High Five.

Driving Distance: 2058 miles
Time: 96 hours
Time in the Car: 34 hours, 10 minute.

Sporadic updates from the road as WiFi is available.



NSA Spying on MySpace. GOOD.

Update 2006-09-06: This was originally published on my MySpace blog. I still think domestic spying is a good thing.

Got this from Z-D Net ... Personally, I'm all for this, and any other "watchdog" program from the government. Why? Well, a couple of reasons:

1. I'm not a terrorist. I have nothing to hide. I don't care if the collective "they" you refer to has access to who I call, what I watch, listen to, jerk off to, or read.

Because I have nothing to hide. (Except that box of porn marked camping supplies).

And I know that 99.99999f those in this audience have nothing to hide, either (except their own box of porn, or pot, or both).
But let's be serious for a minute here ... those "rights" you bitch that you're losing are rights given to you by, and then protected by, the government.

Who also protects you.

That's what the military, and intelligence agencies do.

Protect America.

Corporate America, rural America, urban America.

All of it.

And for the past 230 years, they've done a damn fine job. After all, people hate us because they ain't us. (See, I gots street cred. I know the hip lingo all you kids are using today in your rap lyrics.)

Besides, answer me this: What is the ACLU going to do when Allah's Airborne Army comes crashing down? Put a briefcase down in front of the sword?

Seriously. If Allah's Merchants of Death had their way ... you'd be a headless corpse, or blown to bits by a car bomb, or dying a slow death from nerve gas, ricin, sarin or uranium. They don't care who you are and what you do ... they just care you're not with them. And while being Muslim may help if they ever get around to asking questions ... just remember, they kill for shock value, not for the sake of killing only their enemy. Ever wonder how many Muslims were killed on September 11th? I'm sure that in those two 110 story buildings there were maybe a couple. Other than the 19 involved. Because those 19 guys crashing the planes didn't care if there were any of their fellow Allah lovers in the buildings. All they cared about was destroying those buildings. And America by proxy.

And I'm not a betting man, but I'd put money on the fact that when they do attack again in America, they won't care who is killed or maimed. Shrapnel from car bombs doesn't do a religious check before embedding itself into your soft tissue. Ricin doesn't stop at the gates of the mosque. Radiation doesn't know who prays to Mecca five times a day.

You like all people of all cultures and races and orientations? That's nice in politically correct America. If the now-room-temperature
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had his way, that wouldn't make a bit of difference. His Islamic Sword would cut your head off without bothering to wipe the blood off the blade after he severs mine.

Why? Because we're not Muslim.

Who you are and what you do for a living doesn't make a bit of difference against an enemy who sees you as an infidel.

Period. So being a person who likes my head attached to the rest of my body, and my body free from the effects of shrapnel, poison gas and dirty nukes ... and would like to keep it that way ... my take on spying on America by our government is this:

Listen to my phone calls.
Read my email.
Peruse my music collection.
Check my video rental records.
Look at my banking transactions.
Read my MySpace profile and blog.


And then find those crazy fuckers who want to ruin my way of o life and do your best to ensure they test out that "72-virgin-in-heaven-plan" so advertised for those who die for Allah.

And for you hippies out there ... don't give me your "losing our civil rights" and "free speech" talking points. I'd rather lose those than my head.

But I'm a thinker.

So, with all that said, here's what else our government is paying attention to these days: Yep - MySpace. The current "evil" in America now that WalMart and McDonalds are off the hook.

New Scientist magazine reveals that the National Security Agency is funding research into how to add information from social networking site MySpace listings to profiles of individuals garnered from banking, retail and property records.

As detailed in a footnote to a paper entitled Semantic Analytics on Social Networks, data from online social networks and other databases can be combined to uncover facts about people. The footnote said the work was part-funded by an organization known as ARDA, which stands for Advanced Research Development Activity.

Published in January by the Congressional Research Service, a report named Data Mining and Homeland Security, noted that part of ARDA's role is to promote integration of heretofore format-incompatible data sets about people- data sets that could be combined to generate more complete profiles of individuals under suspicion for potential terrorist links.

To facilitate this integration, research is believed to be underway on Ressource Description Framework, a way of tagging data in a way that will promote more common uniformity with other data.

"By adding online social networking data to its phone analyses, the NSA could connect people at deeper levels, through shared activities, such as taking flying lessons," writes article author Paul Marks.

Complete integration of such databases with phone calling records now believed to be in the possession of the NSA could be utilized in this manner:

Calls from say, Pakistan to the U.S. could be data-mined, and if the recipients of those calls (identified from their phone numbers) called several other numbers within a few hours after receiving those calls from Pakistan, those other numbers could be checked for suspected terrorist links.

And with a list handy of those who have been called available, it wouldn't take much to go to MySpace (or an archived MySpace repository), and search for MySpace users who have posted personally identifiable information that would indicate the need to explore their backgrounds further. Information such as the "flying lessons" example Marks writes about.

I'll do you one better. I believe that computer facial matching software will soon advance to the point where photos stored on NSA computers of terrorist suspects could then be mapped for similarities to photos on MySpace and other social networking sites.


Customer Service? Hardly.

This is an email I sent to a Help Desk supervisor at Dell:

Hello Antonio.

I'm a very dissatisfied Dell customer.

I have a PowerEdge 4600 that has an internal Autoloader 120T that's a hunk of crap.

So I call to get it "repaired" under my service contact.

On Friday.

But I ask to have the call placed for after business hours on Monday.

Which Bjorn does, after 80 minutes.

So now it's Monday.

I was in training on Monday. The parts arrived and were routed to my desk. I returned to the office about 4:45 p.m.

I opened the box. The parts were correct. This time. Last time I had an issue with a tape drive I was sent a single tape drive, not the autoloader that I currently have.

That was four hours wasted sitting around waiting for a second dispatch of parts.

So that's at least one positive thing from this experience.

And the only one.

Rick was waiting for me when I arrived. Rick was the "fine quality technician" dispatched by Dell to repair this issue.

I meet Rick at the door at 4:45. Rick was apparently sick.He looked sick.

I try to tell him that I can't shut down the production server until 5:15. and he's going to have to wait.

He then tells me he's sick. And that he can't hear because his ears are all clogged up.

Great. So he's contagious. Apparently viruses - not the computer kind - are just another Dell Service feature, eh?

So after I tell him again that I can't let him on the server until 5:15. So he give a scowl in return. Hmm, contagious and pissy. Did I win the lottery or what?

I specified on the phone with Bjorn on Friday that this repair had to be completed after regular business hours on Monday.

So I make him sit for a half-hour in the break room.

Where he falls asleep.

Which was reported to me by the users that I support. Nice reflection on me, and Dell, eh?

So at 5:15 I make sure all my users are logged out of the file server.

And wake Rick up.

And Rick replaces the drive.

And leaves when I tell him it's working.

Because it was working. In so much as it loaded the tapes, ran a cleaning cycle and said "Ready" on the LCD screen.

It showed up in BIOS. It accepted the tape magazine. I ran the cleaning program.

When the backup was scheduled to run, however, the drive failed.

When I came in this morning, there was an error on the LCD screen saying LDR_HW ERROR with some numbers. Now I'm not a Certified Dell Technician dealing with backup devices, but I'm guessing that LDR_HW ERROR means there's a problem with the loader hardware, right?

So I call back to Dell. And give Roy the numbers. And tell him that I'm in a bind. I'm leaving for vacation at 5 p.m. today. And my tape drive still isn't working.

So Roy takes 90 minutes of my life. The first 70 were spent trying to figure out what the problem was and trying to understand why I wouldn't allow someone I don't know, probably from a foreign country, poke around my server in a webex session trying to determine what the problem is.

I clearly have an error code. It states hardware error on the loader. Yet Roy can't find anything in the knowledge base.

Roy and I eventually come to an agreement that I can shut my file server down 45 minutes early so he can get the parts and another fine quality technician here to fix the server like they should have fixed the server Monday night.

Fine. So I've now spent a total of 90 minutes on the phone with Roy.

To fix a problem that should have been fixed a day before.

Then Betty calls me and tells me that the parts won't be here until 5:15 p.m. because they don't have the part in Columbus and they have to drive it down from Cleveland.

Well, in my world, 5:15 time of delivery - 12:32 time of dispatch = 4 hours and 43 minutes, which is outside of the four hour service specified in the SLA that my company has with Dell.

So now let's talk quality.

Dell, from what I understand, prides itself on service.

Might wanna rethink, or re-engineer that. I know you subcontract for field service. I've been to Dell. I've been Dell Certified. I spent a week at the Round Rock facility drinking the kool-aid and being indoctrinated into the corporate culture of all that is Dell.

And I respect Michael Dell for his business sense and vision to build machines that are stable and dependable for business and not worry about having bleeding edge technology.

Because business demand stability over performance.

And because of my training in 2002, I understand that becoming a Dell Service Provider usually means you're a pretty decent technician.

With some customer service skills.

There are, however, exceptions.

Rick, who serviced the tape drive on Monday, is one of those exceptions.

After I called Dell to place a new service call for the same issue, Rick, who did the poor quality job last night, then called me to ask about the new ticket.

I told him he did a terrible job. I told him I wanted a different technician to come install the part tonight.

He had no apology. He had nothing else to say except, "Well, okay." and hung up.

Tim called me from the same number as Rick, about 30 minutes later, and I explained the situation to him, I said "Rick was here last night" and he said "Oh no."

Now I've worked with some less-than-stellar people in my life. That's usually the response a quality technician, like myself, gives, involuntarily, when they realize they're going into a hostile environment to clean up a mess left by a moron they work with.

Now let's talk overall satisfaction:

As I see it, Rick is 0-2. No technical skills. No customer service skills.

And Dell, so far is 0-2 on this issue.

Wait, 0-3 if the parts don't get here with the 4 hour window.

I just spoke to the UPS driver. He says he should be here before 4:30. So there's hope on that end. Thank God for UPS.

But so far, as far as this tape drive is concerned, all-time, Dell is 0-4 as this is the 4th service call on this particular backup device.

Replaced four times in 18 months?


And I don't have the time or energy to discuss the "quality" of service received on the telephone, so I'll sum it up with these three lines:

1st call - with Bjorn - 80 minutes of me attempting to understand what he was saying. Does anyone at Dell speak ungarbled English anymore?

2nd call - with Roy - 90 minutes of me attempting to tell him that when a device shows an error on the device's built-in LCD screen odds are it's a hardware problem.

That's nearly three hours of my life I'll never get back ... spent on the phone, with your Gold level technicians.

Plus the time waiting for your "quality" parts to be delivered, probably outside of the SLA.

And the time having your "quality" technician stare at me yesterday because he arrived at 4:45 and I could not shut down my production file server until 5:15.

And Roy wondered why I won't allow "technicians" to webex into my production server and poke around?

So Tim comes with the tape drive.

It doesn't fucking work.

And it won't until I'm back on Monday.

Cock sucking monkey fuckers.