Thursday, January 28, 2016

I think I'll go see Cracker

It seems like every summer, there's a big huge free concert down the street over there at the Memorial park.  There are usually 3 or 5 bands who used to be popular.  They each do a 20 minute set and then there are fireworks.

One year recently, I think it was Sugar Ray, Blues Traveler and Uncle Kracker.  Smashmouth might have been there or maybe that was a different year.

I think the estimates are usually that something like 80,000 people go. I think we go about 1 out of 2 or 3 years.  It's usually a pretty good time.  It's free.  It's a big party.

I wonder how many people would show up if they charged say, five dollars.

Anyway, I don't really know who Uncle Kracker is, but I'm pretty sure I don't like them.

Cracker on the other hand.  I really like Cracker. The lyrics.  Yeah.  It's the lyrics.

"Hey, Hey it's ok to make a little mess out of your life. Cause you don't need a diagram to tell you how to have a good time."

"I don't know what the world may need, but a V-8 engine's a good start for me"

"Well I was gonna bring you flowers but I didn't.  It's the thought that counts and I think I'm a bit too broke."

Pure gold.  Uncle Kracker though.  Hang on. I honestly don't know what they sing. I will consult the google and get back to you.  It might take a while but to you it will only seem like a moment ...

Ok I'm back.  That was only like a minute.  I have to go back to google but I just wanted to stop back and say that I still don't know what "they" sing, but I have learned that "Uncle Kracker"  is the stage name of a person who is really named "Matthew Shafer"

I'm not sure which I like better except that it's not "Uncle Kracker."  I think that's a terribly annoying name.

Cracker on the other hand ...

Ok hang on, I'll go see what M. Night Shafer sings.  See?  Right there.  Better name than both of the others.  And that took me like zero seconds to come up with.  Maybe Uncle Kracker was too busy writing awesome songs to worry about how he was being bullied. Hang on, I'll be right back.

Holy Jason Mraz on helium, Batman!  Yuck.  I do not like the song singing of this Uncle Kracker very much at all.

I distinctly remember him now.  I remember being glad we were arriving as his second 15 minutes in life was ending at Memorial park (he was the first on that night).

But honestly, I can't give anybody at the free concert too hard a time.  It's free.  Therefore: fun.

I can't stand when people complain about how much the bands playing at the free concert suck.

Who cares?  Drink a beer and have some fun.  It's free.  I hope that next year when the suck bands are announced and you get into the tongue clicking, eye rolling thing, you'll remember the cost of admission.

But anyway.  I bring all of this up because:

1) I am at a total loss for anything to say tonight
b) I put on some Cracker (Kerosene Hat) when I sat down to the blank page tonight.
3) I want to iterate that there is no cost for the concert.

That reminds me.  One time a few years ago somebody told me Cracker was playing at the free concert down the street.

He was telling me because he knew I liked Cracker so much.

I said, "Whaaaaaaat?!?! Cracker!  That is unbelievable."

Then he said, "Oh it's definitely Cracker. On the radio, they said the lineup was Blues Traveler, Sugar Ray, Uncle Kracker, and maybe Smashmouth.  They couldn't remember"

"Wait," I said, "I thought you said it was Cracker."

"Yeah.  That's right.  Uncle Kracker."

"I'm pretty sure that's different," I said, crestfallen.  Hang on.  I'm going to google "crestfallen" to see if that's how I was behaving when I found out it was Uncle Kracker and not Cracker playing the free concert down the street.

Ok I'm back.  I looked up "crestfallen".  I was totally crestfallen at that moment.

It turned out alright though.  As I mentioned, we got there about the time Uncle Kracker was doing his last (possibly only) song.  We worked our way to the stage and started shouting for him to play "Eurotrash Girl."

He tried to explain but we weren't having it.  We basically threatened him.  It worked. He played Eurotrash Girl for us.  He had no choice at that point. Then as a bonus, he did a beautiful rendition of Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" as sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Did I mention that this was all free?  We had beer.  We had fun.  Mission accomplished.


So while I was writing this, I wondered out loud if Cracker was still touring.  Crazy.  They're playing tonight (Thursday) through Saturday in Athens GA.  Yeah, I won't be able to get to that one.

Next Friday though. They're in Maryland. Better, but probably not.

Hello, what's this? Richmond Virginia a week from Saturday!! Are you kidding me! I'm virtually there 3 times a week on the Zwift. I was there tonight as a matter of fact.  I'm getting to know my way around that course pretty well.  Lucky me.

Oops.  Time to end the post. "Cracker -- Kerosene Hat" just ended and  became "The Cramps - Off The Bone" which is simply delightful (96 tears in 96 eyes).  Although possibly not as good as "The Uncle Kramps."  The jury is still out and such.

Obligation met.  Goodnight.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Spoiler Alert: Contains a vampire.

There's an old thing people say sometimes. They look at you and say "Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

This is a question with no good answer.

Possible answers:

1) Yes it is a banana

2) No it is not a banana

3) Yes I am happy to see you

4) No I am not happy to see you.

First of all, I think that carrying a banana in your pocket is a rare thing.

Much more rare than being happy to see a friend.

But not quite as rare as being so happy to see your friend that you get a big boner.

But your friend doesn't know.  It's either a banana or a boner as far as your friend is concerned.

To me the problem with the question is that whether or not you have a banana in your pocket, you are in an awkward position.

The question seems to suggest that you cannot possibly be happy to see your friend and also have a banana in your pocket.

Of course, this is ridiculous. Both could be true.

But that's not really the point of the question is it?

The question is rhetorical, isn't it? (rhetorical).

If somebody says "Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

They are really saying "Why does it appear that you are sporting wood? Correct the situation immediately."

But then - and most likely - not completely without whimsy, they offer 2 possible answers.

The first is the thing about the banana.

Stranger still, the question implies that the banana hypothesis is the more exciting one.

"Oh yawn.  You're just happy to see me."

Almost seems like it should go the other way.  Like "Hey - are we going to get busy or is that just a banana in your pocket?"

Then you could say, "Both.  I need my potassium if we're going to get busy."

Then you could just whip it out, peel it and enjoy your tasty banana while your friend waits.

"I can clearly see now that you're happy to see me," your friend might say.

At which point you could say, "No.  Actually that's just another banana."

Then you could give the second banana to your friend because even though you are happy to see your friend, it's not in that way that your friend is thinking of.

Regardless, everybody needs potassium.

This was the funnest blogpost I have written this year so far.

Ah ... a Vampire!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Not Talking About Bowie

Maybe some other time I will talk about what David Bowie meant to me.  Maybe I won't.  But now is not the time.  I was shocked when I heard he died.

I knew his birthday was last Friday.  He also released an album.  Amazon Prime had it available streaming, so I listened to it Saturday while I was on the rollers.  Yep.  That's Bowie.

I didn't know he was sick.

I've spoken here and here about Bowie.  Or rather - about me with Bowie as the backdrop.

The first time I ever became aware of Bowie's existence ...

Oh wait, I'm not talking about Bowie.

But his surprise (to me) death does bring up some emotions I'd like to share.  Thanks in advance for your consideration of my thoughts.  This isn't easy for me:

One of my least favorite types of comments old people make begin with a phrase like "Kids these days."

People will claim that they were raised to respect their elders.  That their parents would have "whooped" their asses if they'd behave the way the "kids these days" do.

I've seen people lament that the kids these days are soft because they've never had to go off and die in a world war.

Kids these days just play video games.  Communication is dead because they use text messaging instead of just punching each other or whatever they did in the 50's.

I think what I hate most about the talk above is it's just not true.  Kids are not more "spoiled" than we were.  People haven't changed at all.

Communication isn't ruined.  I never talked to anybody except my close friends when I was a kid.

I see so many kids, fresh out of college starting careers and way more responsible than I ever was at that age.

And I was more responsible than the people complaining now.

So yeah - I don't think the old ways are any better.  I almost always think we are moving in the right direction as a planet.

The rest of this post is about bicycles. The future of bicycles.

I am surprised how many people are openly embracing electronic shifting.  I am hearing more and more rave about this marvelous new innovation.

Gregg (from Olympia) told me recently that he had demoed some electronic groupset from SRAM.

He went on and on about how lovely it was.

I told him why it's a deal breaker for me.  It's not a bike anymore.  Not the way I think of a bike.

Making shifting easier by means of electronics crosses the line.  But not enough to make it any easier to ride the bike.  Maybe due to weight savings (if there isn't any yet, there will be), but you still have to do all the legwork yourself.

And then you have to remember to charge your bike or you wont be able to shift (I'm guessing).

That's just stupid.

I just saw a remark on the Facebooks that with electronic shifting, no more worry about cable stretching.

Um ..

When the fuck do you ever worry about cable stretching? Well replace that with worrying about all the other crap that will go wrong with electronic shifting.

When the cable stretches - give the barrel a turn.  Then forget about it.

But none of that stuff really matters to me.  I have to admit the reason I hate the idea of electronic shifting has to do with a certain romantic attitude I have toward a functioning bicycle.

In the past, when bike improvements came along, the pros were always slow to adopt them.  And even slower to adapt them.  Not me. I don't end up getting the new thing until way late, but that's more economics than skepticism.

Disc brakes on road bikes?  Yes please. Clipless pedals?  Of course.  Brifters? Absolutely.  Full suspension Mtn Bikes?  You bet. Fat Bikes? Well, no.  Fat bikes are dumb.

However - fat bikes are still bikes.

But cube? You've got batteries all over yourself when you ride.

I carry a phone.  I have a heart rate monitor.  A  Garmin.  A power meter.  All require batteries to function. If I ever forget one of these things within the first mile or so of a ride, I will go back for it.

It's as if I can't ride without all of these things.

But I can.  Because none of those things is required for my bike to work perfectly well.

Oh Cube!  Just try battery powered shifting!  You'll love it and so on.

If I'm, say, riding around in Las Vegas or something and somebody's going to rob the casino, I could be in big trouble.  As we learned from the docudrama "Oceans 11,"  You can temporarily knock out all electronics for miles by sending an EMP out to everywhere.

I'd be riding around and boom, my heart rate monitor, cell phone, power meter and Garmin all stop working.

Admittedly, even if I just had boring old regular non-electronic shifting, I'd probably pull over and wait it out, just so I wouldn't miss out on any Strava segments or anything.  But that's not the point.

The point is, I could still ride and shift if I wanted to.

I think if there was a way to still shift in the event of a dead battery or casino robbery, I would be more willing to consider electronic shifting.  Or if I could shift somebody else's bike, maybe.

Which - that's another thing.  I've heard the Electronic shifting evangelists claim that the signal is solid.  Difficult to interrupt or hack.

Bullshit.  When has anything wireless ever worked flawlessly?  It's a little inconvenient when you're trying to watch Netflix.  But could be deadly if you're bombing down a hill and need to stop suddenly.

What?  How could that matter?  It's shifting not brakes?  Good point.  It makes no difference.  Until electronic braking is a thing.  Oh it will be.  I promise.

How can I be so sure?  Because it's a really stupid idea.  Like Fat bikes and eShifting.

Can you even imagine how mad I am at those electronic bikes? No you can't. And I'm not going to go into it right now.  But  I can tell you it's way worse than Fat bikes (still a bike) and eshifting (not a bike). Specialized makes one.  It's made to look like a bike.  You can hardly tell, but it has "battery assist."

Oh for fuck's sake!  Just get a goddamn motorcycle already.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

The Ice Thief

I think it was Monday of this week that I went to a little convenience shop near work.

I was going in to get a cup of coffee.  Small.  

Small is the best value.  Not per ounce.  Per price.

See, the medium is just a few pennies more than the small and a few pennies less than the large.

I used to get the large because it was the cheapest per ounce.

Eventually I realized that I would end up drinking only about half of it and dumping the rest out - so yeah, small is the best value.

When I get the coffee, I usually mix the regular blend with the hazelnut.  About 80/20 regular/hazelnut.

I like the flavor of hazelnut.  But it's too much in pure form, so I step on it a few times.  20% Hzl is about all I can handle.

A couple of weeks ago a customer, let's call her "Julie" was trying to decide what kind of coffee to get.

The crusty old worker lady in there, let's call her "Crusty" said "You should just mix some hazelnut with regular.  It's really good that way."

I was irritated by the suggestion.  Not that I thought Crusty stole my idea or anything.  No -  I was mad because now I couldn't get the coffee the way I wanted because Crusty would see it and expect some sort of recognition for her great idea.

It might seem unlikely, but people in the morning are like that.  All up in everybody's bidnus and such.

That's why Crusty was telling Julie all about how she should prepare her cup of joe.

No way I wanted to hear Crusty say something like "See - he's gonna give ol' Crusty's idea a whirl."

I would have no choice but strangle her at that point and my day would be pretty much ruined.

Even after I got my full cup of regular coffee, Julie was still trying to decide.  "Maybe you just don't want coffee Julie.  You ever consider that, bitch?!?"  I felt like saying. God, Julie was annoying.  Then she got even more annoying ...

She made a strange reference.  I guess it wouldn't have been strange 20 or 30 years ago when some people knew who Denis Leary was (a bad comedian).

I bought Denis Leary's "No Cure For Cancer" cd many years ago.  Just awful.  But I had just paid $9 or something for a cd and felt like I should listen to it a few times.  It didn't get better, but at least there are tiny little parts of it that make me smile from time to time.  Ok, one part.

It's the part about NyQuil.  Not even the whole rant. Just some of it.  Bits and pieces like:

We love you NyQuil, you giant fucking "Q" 

Or of the guys in AA who had a 2 year long cold:

"I'm high as a kite and my teeth are green.  Merry fucking christmas."

See? Not funny at all.  But so stupid, it makes me laugh.

Back to Julie.  She said to the room (she was turning to include me - I looked down to hopefully exclude myself)  "I can't mix the coffee because Denis Leary would yell at me for not having coffee flavored coffee."

I was thinking, "Really? A Denis Leary reference.  That's some weak-ass shit."

But I just wanted to get out of there without talking to any of them.  

Now that I think about it, the whole thing doesn't make any sense.  Nobody would get her joke.  I mean yeah, I did.  But Crusty had no idea what she was talking about.  Crusty just made that annoying whiney. moany sort of laugh noise people sometimes make when they can tell by the person's manner that they are trying to make a joke of some kind.  It sounds like something a bored wookie might say.

It wasn't funny when Denis Leary said it and it's not funny now.  But then later as I was drinking my plain coffee, it occurred to me that Julie must actually be friends with Denis Leary.  I imagine that he probably gives her a ride to work or something.  She doesn't even know that he was once an awful comedian. He's just this high strung guy she knows who goes out of his mind at Starbucks and screams at Ford Trucks.

And maybe Julie and Crusty are friends.  Maybe Crusty knows Denis Leary, but is uncomfortable when Julie mentions him because she cares for Julie. Denis Leary is obviously bad news.  Always shouting about cough syrup and stuff.  That's why she made the funny noise.

Yeah that makes a lot more sense than someone making a Denis Leary joke on purpose.

Oh dear - I seem to have strayed off course.

Oh well.  The other day I went into the convenience shop near work.  As I was going in, a woman was walking out with a big cup.  Immediately, I was irritated.  I hate those giant cups people walk around with all day.  

"Ma'am!  Excuse me!  Ma'am!"  shouted Crusty (who may or may not know Denis Leary) from behind the counter.

"The ice is NOT free!"

The Ice thief tried to act all innocent and everything.  She just looked at the woman and kind of shrugged like, "Are you kidding me?"  Or maybe that was me.  As much as I don't like huge cups of ice, I think they should be free.  So did the ice thief.  

Anyway, Crusty said, "You have to pay for that, you know!"

There were about 4 people in line.  Crusty was sort of busy at the cash register, but she'll be damned if that ice thieving bitch is taking one more step toward that effing door.  Or something.

If I was the ice thief, I would have just bolted down the street.  Actually, that's just what I wanted the ice thief to do.

Because I think old Crusty would have chased her down, gout be damned, and tackled her, huge cup of ice tumbling through the air, ending in a magnificent explosion at the pavement.

That would have made my day.

The point is, I'm kind of grumpy in the morning and I just wish everybody would shut the hell up until I've had my coffee.  On second thought - maybe Denis has a point ...

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Family is what you really want.

Abe is 10.  He doesn't really like football.  I mean watching football.  I'd say he severely dislikes it.  He wouldn't want to play it either.  Not really his thing.

Abe likes to watch Disney TV and Cartoon Network and stuff like that.

I don't watch much football anymore.  Weekends are usually pretty busy if I go for a long ride.  I don't have cable, so I have a lot fewer games to chose from than I used to.

But for the bowl games, I subscribed to "Sling."  Sling is streaming live television from a dozen or so popular TV channels.  It is 20 dollars a month.  ESPN is one of the channels so I have pretty much all of the bowl games.  I'll cancel Sling after the games are over.

I've spent several hours the last few days enjoying some of the most boringest bowl games I can remember for a long time.

Early Friday we got some bad news about some friends of ours.

This is a family that lives nearby.  Jill and I have been friends with the mom since we were teenagers.  I knew her from High School and Jill has been good friends with her since college.

Their kids play with our kids when they have parties/gatherings.

The family is losing the father from illness.  I came home yesterday to see the tail end of my wife explaining to our kids what was going on.

Abe was extremely upset.  Both children were sad and scared.  They were sorrowful for their friends losing their dad.  They were also contemplating "What if .."

A few hours later, I was watching a football game and Abe got into my lap.  He asked me if he could watch football with me.  This has never happened before.  He asked me why the numbers start to go back down after 50.  He asked me what "15 yard penalty" meant. He asked me question after question and I tried to answer as clearly as possible. It really is a difficult game to try to explain to somebody who's never watched it.

But I didn't mind.  Abe wanted to spend time with me because yesterday he became aware that time with me is finite.

I asked him if he'd rather watch the Disney channel. Like I said, the games have been fairly boring (lopsided victories).

I like watching the Disney Channel about as much as Abe likes watching football.

But I didn't care.  Neither did Abe.  He said, "It's fine.  We can watch football"

So we did.