B-Sides

Hello loyal readers of Droppin’ Some Deem.  Since we’ve been talking a
lot about music lately, I figured I’d drop a couple B-Side blog
entries, nothing good enough to warrant a real post, but collectively,
they might be interesting to a couple rabid readers out there. 

Track 1.  My wife is going away this weekend.  When the cat’s away, the
mice will play…softball.  That’s right, I have a huge softball
tournament on Saturday and another game for my normal league on
Sunday.  Since my wife will be away on a girls getaway, I had to secure
two babysitters for the games (thank you Kate and Laurie).  I sometimes
think my wife is concerned about what crazy things I’ll get into when I
afforded additional freedom, all signs point to softball. 

Track 2.  When I’m not going to be playing softball, you will find me
at the playground with Winston or at the swimming pool in our apartment
complex.  If anyone wants to come over on Saturday night and join
Winston and I for dinner, you are more than welcome.  We might go to
Cafe America. 

Track 3.  My good friend has purchased a motorcycle.  It’s an all
black, classic looking beauty.  I would be the world’s most annoying
person if I had a motorcycle, because the absence of a motorcycle is
the only thing holding me back from becoming the second coming of
Arthur Fonzarelli.  That’s right, I have such a deep passion to become
the Fonz, you don’t know how much I struggle to keep myself from
walking into conference rooms thrusting my two thumbs out saying
“Aaay!!!!”  When I walk into a bar, I just want to give the jukebox a
smack and hear my favorite song start to play.  If I had a motorcycle,
I’d be jumping the shark on waterskies. 

Track 4.  Thursday and Friday I am going to the Ritz Carlton for work,
I am not staying the night, just hanging out in their conference
rooms.  I have never been to the Ritz, but I hear they have excellent
crackers. 

Track 5.  Winston now babbles complete sentences.  There’s not a real
word among it all, but he will look you in the eye and say, “Ga Ba Ey
MuMu Ki Tu Uh”

Track 6.  I want to buy a JJ Cale album, many of his songs have been
covered by Eric Clapton (After Midnight & Cocaine) and Leonard
Skynard covered (Call Me The Breeze), his version is always a lot more
mellow than the covered version.  Anyways, I am not sure where to buy
it since I have said that I want to stop buying things from the big
conglomerates.  Jaclyn recommended that I buy it from his website, but
it’s not on there either.  Any ideas? 

Track 7.  I ate at 5 Guys.  It is good, but not worth a special trip. 
If you were at some mythical intersection of purveyors of burgers,
Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, or Five Guys, I would choose 5 Guys,
but not by much. 

Track 8.  I read an article on ticks today, it nearly made me throw
up.  If you were ever curious about ticks and how they exist, you
should check it out:
http://www.slate.com/id/2193879/

Track 9.  I really like This American Life on NPR and Showtime, if you
haven’t heard or seen it, you really must, it’s the best way to pass a
half hour of time. 

Track 10.  The Phillies 6 game losing streak against American League
teams has made me think we won’t being seeing a parade down Broad
Street this year.

Track 11.  The only bad thing about Regency Woods is that there’s a small airport in Doylestown where little planes from the World War 2 era fly directly over our apartment, it sounds like Maverick and Goose buzzing the tower!

Secret Bonus Track that you have to fast forward another 14 minutes and
17 seconds to get to:  I can’t wait to see the Dark Knight, I think we
should try to go as a huge group.  I think that would be a lot of fun,
if we do, I’ll dress like the Fonz.

Oil

Okay, I have become really sick and tired of hearing the news about the “Pain at the Pump”.  Yeah, gas prices are high, it sucks that you have to pay more to fill up your car, but if we can keep these prices high enough, long enough, we will see dramatic changes in our behavior, we might even see a reduction of our carbon emmission, it might just be the best thing that has ever happened to us (and our grandchildren). 

One thing that really pissed me off about the whole thing is that the oil companies and Republicans are saying that these prices are a result of supply and demand.  This is a big lie.  THIS IS A TOTAL LIE.  The gas prices we are seeing now have nothing to do with supply and demand and I am going to tell you why.  It seemed awfully suspicious to see the gas price increase 40% in 2 years just as a result supply and demand, that would mean we would have had a major decrease in supply or a major increase in demand.  The truth is, we haven’t seen either.  I researched the US Energy Information Administration to track gas prices for the last two years.  I also went to International Energy Agency to get data on the global supply and demand.  What I found was pretty contradictory to what our government is telling us, there is no major change in global supply or demand and our current global supply is basically the same as it was two years ago.  The only thing that has changed, is the price of gasoline.  Take a look at the charts I put together from the statistics I gathered. 
You can see supply and demand, staying even with each other, no real volatility, while you see the price going way up.  Supply in demand are being represented in millions of barrels per day.  These should be two separate charts, but overlaying them makes the point. 

A closer look at supply and demand

The biggest reason for a 40% increase in gas prices is the decrease in the value of the dollar.  The US dollar has lost 30% of its value against the Euro in the past two years (found this out from Historial Exchange Rates).  Oil is purchased with dollars, even if supply and demand stay the same, the cost goes up for us as the value of the dollar goes down.  

What Would Deem Do?  Well, I would drive less, get a more fuel efficient car, and hope the rest of the world does the same.  I would also hope for this war to end soon, the US military is the single biggest purchaser of fuel in the world.  They go through 1.7 million barrels of fuel every day (talk about a big carbon footprint!).  I also wouldn’t let our country’s current inflation lead us into drilling the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR – Bush always says, “ANWR” because he knows Wildlife Refuge and Oil Drilling will rub people the wrong way!).  The oil we extract from one of the last protected places will not help prices at all, but it will help Bush’s friends and family who have many ties to oil corporations increase profit margins.

God bless America people!  

The important thing is we all have our slice of heaven, do what you love, love what you do.     

Heaven

When I think about death and the logistics of it all, it comes close to shutting my system down.  It’s just hard to imagine that I will someday die and the world will go on without me.  I know that sounds egotistical, maybe worse, but I only know this world through my own eyes, so someday, many years from now when the time comes for me to expire, it will be so very strange.  

 

I like to think of the possibilities:

 

Option 1.  Maybe after my last dying breath, I will just stop, no more thoughts, no more memories, just a little bubble of hope, hoping that I did enough, gave enough, and was true enough to give the people still alive a life that was as good as mine, if not better.  My body returns to this earth and the circle of life continues. 

 

Option 2.  I go up this long crazy tunnel towards some light and a panel is waiting for me.  The panel explains that they want to evaluate me to decide if I should go to heaven or hell.  I like to think of the panel being made up of Dave Thomas from Wendy’s, Dr. Luther King Jr., and Amelia Earhart (they would be set up like the judges from American Idol).  I would take a seat and watch a film of pivotal moments in my life, good deeds, bad decisions, being hurtful, being helpful, and then the judges would make their decision.  They each give their vote and hopefully I’m headed to Heaven. 

 

Heaven is supposed to be a pretty cool place.  I imagine it being filled with awesome stuff that would make me happy.  I know Buster, my old dog will be there.  I will have a movie cinema all to myself where I can play Xbox 360 games on the big screen, and maybe some Oompa Lumpa people can bring me pizza and Iced Tea whenever I wanted it.  I would want to check up on the people who were still living, there would have to be some technical specialist up there who could help me out with this, it would probably be some Google type of device where I could punch in someone’s name and peer down on them.  I would imagine that there has to be some type of surveillance etiquette, like no watching a person go to the bathroom or take a shower.  There’s probably a bunch of rules in heaven, or maybe everything is just so free and happy that you don’t need rules, maybe bowel movements are beautiful and something to be celebrated in heaven.  I would definitely check up on friends and family, I’d probably watch the Phillies and Eagles, and eat a lot of pizza, basically what I do now…with Oompa Lumpas. 



Too Little, Too Late

Goodness gracious, when I blogged last week about supporting the local record store, I had no idea how much urgency there was at that moment.  Less than 24 hours after my post about Siren Records, a judge ordered their eviction and a sheriff sale was held to liquidate the store’s assets.  Apparently they were approximately $350,000 behind on rent payments. 

It would be awfully hard to open and maintain a music store in the digital age, I think that might be the last music store we see in Doylestown for a very long time, maybe they’ll just become extinct.  The only independent music store that I know to be open is the Princeton Record Exchange, I’ll probably make an annual pilgrimage there to remember what it was like to buy music at a store, to listen to an obscure band being played loudly and proudly by weird and funky audiophiles from behind the counter.  To comb through your favorite band’s CDs and find an import CD with new songs you’ve never heard, to purchase an entire album that you actually want to commit to and listen to from start to finish, the adventure of searching through the CDs and finding the one you need.  I will miss it.    

So, where do you dollars go?  Best Buy, Circuit City, Walmart, Target, Apple, Amazon?  I just wish I could give my music dollars to a friend, to a store that is in my town that holds concerts for the kids, to someone rather than some corporate entity. 

I knew a couple people that worked at Siren, I worked with them in my college years when I worked at the Doylestown Bookshop.  They were cool, they were hip, and they were down to earth, I’m sure they didn’t make tons of money, but they had a great job doing what they loved doing, I envied them for being able to work at a record shop and for having cool little apartments in the center of town, it seemed like the most wonderful life. 

The internet is great, I love the internet, but we need to beware.  We need to know the consequences of transitioning our purchases to online merchants, we need to make sure we think about our communities and keeping them alive, otherwise, our only communities will be virtual or ubiquitous corporate facades. 

We lost Siren, but maybe we can keep the Doylestown Bookshop in business, the County Theater, or any other place you might want to save. 

Sorry about the preaching, it was just on my mind.  We had a good weekend, celebrated a my friend’s 30th birthday.  My friends are turning 30, getting married, and I have a kid with another on the way, we’re getting old.  I really look forward to my friends having kids as well, I hope our kids become friends with their kids and we can have giant sleep overs.  By the way, my favorite kids show is The BackYardigans, the music on the show rocks. 

Siren Records

I am part of the problem.  I used to be super intense about my music, now I just know what I love and keep it pretty simple.  I can throw on Oldie’s 98 on FM radio and be pretty happy with the old Soul and Motown music, I’m not the music elitist that I used to be.

Anyways, there was a day that I was very impatient and very cheap.  If Siren Records didn’t have the album I was looking for, I’d head down to Best Buy.  Sometimes, I would just bypass Siren altogether and head straight down to Best Buy for their low prices.   

I am pretty sure millions of other people did the same thing, we stopped going to the local stores and started hitting up the Best Buys, Walmarts, Targets, and Home Depots.  We put a lot of little guys out of business, not just for CDs, but for everything, tools, candy, books, etc.  America is looking very similar where ever you go, you see the same restaurants, the same stores, and the same people.  It’s a shame too because a lot of these big chain stores don’t sponsor little league teams, give money to fundraisers, and help out the local people in need, only the small mom and pop stores really do it.  I remember at Colby’s Memorial Run, all of the sponsors were small family owned businesses.  It’s just nice to see the store profit stay in the community and be reinvested into the community. 

Siren Records is holding little concerts with local bands (and international bands from what I hear), they have a knowledgable staff that’s passionate about their music, and the money goes back into the town.  In fact, their new location really adds a lot to our town as I noticed about 100 teenagers enjoying a death metal concert. 

They might not have the greatest selection, but it’s pretty good and they can order anything.  The average CD will set you back another $1 or $2, but it’s worth it, if you’re going to spend money, it’s nice to see it being returned back into your community. 

The Abortion of Cool

This weekend we had a bachelor party.  My friend Jay is getting married in a month, so we decided this was a great weekend for celebrating the conclusion of his single life.  We wanted the party to be enjoyable, but rated PG-13, he just wanted a nice day out with the gang. 

At 8AM, we met on the golf course to shoot 18 holes of golf.  I am not a golfer, but I had a very nice romantic idea of golf, a beautiful day spent walking with friends through the woods while we hit golf balls and caught up on life.  The reality of golf is that the tranquility is quickly replaced with profanity, thrown golf clubs, the occasional collision of golf carts, and “FORE!!!” being yelled in your direction, prompting you to dive behind a tree taking cover from errant golf balls.  I also had no idea that golf takes forever, did you know it takes 4-5 hours to play 18 holes?  It was sweltering hot, you could be sweating in the shade.  I managed to hit a good shot here and there, but never managed to string two good shots together.  Eventually, I gave up hopes of putting up a Tiger Woods caliber performance and was satisfied with just whacking the golf ball up and down the course.  I concluded that I am a fishermen and not a golfer, some people was to play the finest of golf courses, my dream has always been to be fishing the tranquil flats in the Florida Keys, sight fishing for Tarpon, Hammerheads, and Bonefish.

6 hours later, we left the golf course to get cleaned up and prepare for our departure to Philadelphia.  Our first stop in Philadelphia was Fogo De Chao.  Here’s a brief description of the place, it’s a huge restaurant with impeccable style.  Once you’re seated you’re invited to sample the salad bar, it’s complete with all types of salads, cheeses, and a variety of vegetables.  I recommend getting something green into your system, you’ll need it with all the meat you’re about to eat.  Once you’re finished your salad, just flip over a little card from the red side to the green side.  As soon as you flip the card, waiters wielding giant slabs of meat come over to your table and carve off chunks right onto your plate.  They are relentless, they will keep coming until you have ate a week’s worth of food in 30 minutes.  Here’s a tip, pace yourself.  If you miss the Filet Mignon wrapped in bacon, don’t worry, it will be back 5 or 10 minutes later.  There’s about 15 types of meat that come around and you’ll have an opportunity to sample each 2 or 3 times.  Take your time and enjoy yourself.  It is an experience not to be missed.  If your date isn’t carnivorous, don’t take her here, it’s about $50 for each person for dinner and if your date doesn’t like meat, she will be out of luck.

Dinner ended around 9:30PM, we had reservations for Denim Lounge for Bottle Service.  Here’s a big tip about Denim and probably any night club in Philadelphia, don’t show up at 9:30PM.  We sat around for about an hour and a half until there was at least other people in there.  In fact, it was probably most crowded around 2:30AM.  The gang just sat comfortably around our table, nursing bottles of rum and vodka, while watching cooler people seeing and being seen.  I am pretty sure that no one in our group even talked to anyone else in the bar, it was like sitting on a couch and watching a night club on a hi-def TV. 

The evening concluded with some SoHo Pizza, which is my all-time favorite late night pizza spot. 

8AM Sunday morning, we all woke up and headed to the softball field.  We gave it a valiant effort, but 7 of our players were sleep deprived and severely hung over, it wasn’t meant to be, we lost 8-3 to a team with less players on the field. 

    

Go Comcast Yourself

First order of business, an update on my leg.  It is 99% better, the scab’s about gone and it feels as good as new.  A day or two after the initial wound, I went through terrible pain every time I stood up.  I thought this might possibly be a result of infection or torn ligaments, but I think it was just blood flowing through the scraped up area.  Every time I would stand up for the first couple of days, horrible pain would rush into my leg, right around the abrasion, for anyone Googling “Terrible Leg Pain Abrasion Standing Up”, it’s going to be fine, just give it a week.

In my new apartment I got the Comcast Triple Play.  It works fine, in fact, I really like it.  I received my bill today and it was a little more than I expected, but not enough to really set off any alarms.  The bill said they wanted payment by month’s end.  I thought to myself, no problem, I’ll just register on the website and pay my bill.  I start going through the process, I enter my account information and click “Continue”, then a box pops up asking for my PIN number, I never received one, so I had to call 1-800-Comcast.  I called and got the operator, I told him I needed a PIN, they transferred me and during the transfer, I got disconnected. 

I called again, I got the operator, told them I needed a PIN and they transferred me, this time I got music for 15 minutes and then it just hung up. 

I went to the website and they had an option where I could have a “live chat” with someone where they could help me with any questions.  I initiate a “live chat” and ask the technician for a PIN number, he asks me 700 questions verifying my identity and says I will receive my PIN number via e-mail in about 5 minutes.  I said, “Thank you, that was really helpful”, he said, “Have a Comcastic Day!”

One hour goes by and I never receive an e-mail, I checked my spam folder and there’s nothing.  I was having a Comcastic Day alright, I felt like telling the technician to go Comcast himself. 

I call 1-800-Comcast again, I get the operator, I say, “I’ve been trying to get my PIN for two hours and I have been disconnected, I’ve been on hold for twenty minutes then disconnected, I’ve had technicians say they’ll e-mail me a PIN and then it never came, I am running out of patience, please get me a PIN!”  The operator said he’ll stay on the line with me as he transfers me to the department that gives out the PINs.  We wait on hold for about 15 minutes until he comes back onto the line and says, “I can’t get anyone to pick up the phone, they must be really busy, I suggest you call back later.”  I asked when to call back and he said around 2PM. 

I called back around 2PM, a person answered the phone and gave me the PIN within seconds.  No transfers. no holding, nothing, it was beautiful. 

I apologize for this long and boring story, but there’s two points I want to make:
1.  I will do anything possible to avoid interacting with people, I love paying bills and making account adjustments online.  It is disgusting how specialized everyone is becoming, it is a shame that you have to push 9 or 10 automated prompts so you can talk to the appropriate person, why not make everyone capable of talking about everything?
2.  Comcast customer service sucks.  I have no idea what Verizon Fios customer service is like, but it has to be better than Comcast, ceteris paribus, I’d go with Verizon.

DOWN GOES WINSTON, DOWN GOES WINSTON!!!

For every single night for the past year and a half, Winston has worn me out.  The kid wakes me up in the middle of the night, wakes me up at 5AM, he screams like a rabid monkey, he throws his food all over the place, he requires constant supervision, he has always left me gasping for air.  Tonight he was tired and grumpy.  I went right for the jugular, I put him into his stroller and walked him into town, we went to the playground and played on the slides past dark.  He fell asleep in my arms on the way home.  I changed his diaper, cleaned his hands, face, and feet while he slept.  I was wide awake and he was beat.  It is quite a sense of accomplishment.  I finally feel like I can tire this guy out, but he’s got reinforcements coming in November.