Monthly Archives: August 2008

Bowling, bruising, and bass drums

1. Now that we’re right at the tail end of my bowling league’s “season,” I am finally improving. I’m still not near my personal goal of a 150 average, but I’m gaining on it. However, we’re taking a hiatus at the end of August. Not sure when, if ever, we’ll join a new league. Our best player has had his fill of crowded, noisy, amateur-riddled leagues (self excluded, I’m pretty sure).

2. While bowling tonight, I started to choke. Not figuratively; literally. I’m still not sure on what, as all I had was a slushee which shouldn’t have obstructed my airway, but there you have it. I was coughing (exhale) but couldn’t take any air in (inhale). Gasping and panicked, I tapped Jay on the shoulder. He turned around, assessed the situation, and sprang into action. He immediately got into position to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on me, except for two things: I didn’t have the presence of mind to stand up, and Jay didn’t actually know what he was doing. (NOTE: If you find yourself in a similar situation, it turns out that the Heimlich Maneuver is no longer the recommended protocol. First on the list is “encouraging the victim to cough,” which I was already doing, and second is a series of hard smacks on the back. No, seriously.) Jay made a valiant effort, though, and through the chaos we managed to hobble our way through a successful rescue. Like an old lawnmower, I sputtered a bit and started back up, and then set myself to calming the people around me. I’m okay now, thank you. No, really, I’m okay. Yup, everything is okay. Thanks. No, now I’m just coughing. Regular old coughing. The guy at the next table, who asked three times if I was alright, then said, “I’m a First Responder, so I wanted to make sure.” Well, sir, how about jumping in there when you saw that Jay was winging it? THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HELPFUL. At this point, oblivious to all that had happened, Jay’s brother (a registered nurse) came back to the table. As soon as he found out what occurred while he was outside, he fell into a pile of apologies. “You were choking?! But that’s my bag! I could have helped! I’m so sorry. Are you okay? How about now? Now? Now? What about now?” Unfortunately, laughing hurts a bit, now that my ribs are somewhat bruised. Being able to breathe at all, though: priceless.

3. Full disclosure: I know this guy. That doesn’t make his drumming any less spectacular. Watch it, and share the link with your friends. It’s under two minutes long. Around 1:20, his arms become a blur.

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Late to the party

June 11th, 2007. Apple’s newest product, the iPhone, is the talk of… well, everyone. I had started to watch the Apple keynote announcing the phone with absolutely no interest. All I need my phone to do is make and receive calls. Wait, it what? It has a touch screen? It scrolls by touch? Plays video like an iPod? An ambient light sensor? A proximity sensor? It knows if it’s being held it upright or sideways, and flips the screen? On a phone?

And it looks like that?

Want. Wantwantwantwant. Even the sworn-to-PC guys at the office wanted one. So, June 11th came and went, but I was locked into a contract with Sprint. Dave got an iPhone. Megan got an iPhone. Mary Jo got an iPhone. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the friggin’ universe bought iPhones.

I was still stuck with Sprint.

That’s okay, I reasoned. The iPhone is too small anyway. My old iPod has 10GB of RAM, and that’s not going to be suitably replaced by a 4 or 8GB phone. I’d guess the next release will be 20GB; I’ll wait for those.

The next release was actually 16GB. Close enough. But…

I was still stuck with Sprint.

A year after the initial introduction, the next generation was released. A slightly more ergonomic shape, a few physical improvements, a faster network, more precise GPS, and snazzier software. Still, I am stuck with the fabulously craptastic Sprint. My friend Dave, who works as a tech writer, is now on his third iPhone. In an extraordinarily gracious gesture, he gave me his “old” 16GB iPhone for my birthday last month. All I need to do is activate it. When my (expletive deleted) Sprint contract expires in October. I wondered about taking it out of the box, and turning it on, just to see what would happen. Would it instantly take me to an activation screen? Would the more rudimentary features work? I didn’t think about it too much, and didn’t remember try it.

Dave is staying with me for a few days, and while we were working side-by-side on our laptops, he suddenly remembered that I can indeed use the phone, in a manner not unlike the iPod Touch, to play with all the goodies that aren’t phone based. I took it out of the box. I unwrapped the protective plastic film. I turned it on.

I squealed with delight.

Dave showed me the pertinent stuff. He recommended a few iPhone apps. He worked on his assignments, while I giggled and cooed over the phone, and he answered questions when I had them. I can only really play when I’m within range of a wifi signal, which this weekend meant when I was home. Still, I’ve done a pretty good job of learning my way around the standard apps, and the few that I’ve added. Dave has been an invaluable help as well (in addition to the iPhone business, he also hooked me into the Starbucks wifi system that I’d been having trouble with, disconnected the superfluous VCR from my TV setup, and updated my Wii so that it would STOP BLINKING AT ME). I already feel more capable as a user on the iPhone than I do on the Samsung phone that I’ve been using for the past 22 months. I found a neat new silicone outfit for the iPhone on Saturday at, of all places, the local Dollar Tree. I look forward to taking the phone to work this week, and testing it on the office wifi network. I very much await October, when I can plug this beauty into the iTunes Music Store and tell it to hook me up with an AT&T account.

For the few of you who haven’t yet used one: This thing is awesome.

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Hey, Jackass!

I’m driving down a 4-lane, divided highway. The speed limit along this stretch of road is 65, which means that, under ideal circumstances, I’m usually cruising along at 70–75. On this particular evening, though, I’m still in the very tail end of rush hour. Traffic is moving along, but it’s congested enough to slow everyone down a little.

I’m driving in the left, or passing, lane. There is a FedEx Ground 18-wheeler directly in front of me, and we are steadily passing slightly slower traffic in the right lane. I am coming up on a FedEx Express 18-wheeler on my right (it’s the time of day when all the trucks are heading to the airport) when I see a white SUV coming up fast behind it. Of course, there isn’t enough room for him to move left and thread the needle between YOU FUCKWAD! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU JUST DID THAT!

I hit my brakes. I hit my horn. The driver of the SUV flips me off, then aggressively gestures that I should move into the right-hand lane.

I double-check my speed, and see that this interloper has caused me to slow my speed to 61. I double-check reality and see that the 18-wheeler is still in front of me (well, now it’s in front of the SUV), and there continues to be NOWHERE FOR THIS DILLHOLE TO GO. For the next three miles, this guy is trapped between me and an 18-wheeler. At that point, I’m exiting the highway, and now I’m able to zip into an open lane… right next to this twit… and flip him off, good and long. RIGHT BACK AT YA, JACKASS.

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Make a little birdhouse in your soul

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul

—TMBG

Back in February, I was visiting a friend who lives up in north Boulder. As we got out of his VW to walk into his condo, I noticed an old car in the community parking lot. I “ooooh”ed over it, and my friend mentioned that nobody knows who owns it, but it had been parked there, unmoving, for nearly 3 years.

Horrors! This car is not living up to its vehicular potential! I skipped over to take a look.

Okay, it’s a Thunderbird. The only style of T-bird I would know on sight is the round-window jobbie that Suzanne Somers (now there’s some trivia for you) drives in American Graffiti. But judging by the body shape on this one, I would guess early-to-mid ’60s. Hmmm… a few dents and dings, as would be expected on a car of any reasonable age, let alone one that’s 40-some-odd years old. A bit of rust. But overall, pretty clean and straight. I peek inside. It is gritty with the fine, dry dirt that is prevalent in the foothills. It gets darn windy up there, so I’ll assume that it blew in through the vents during three years of NoBo dust storms. The interior, or what I can see of it because the back seat is being used as a dusty storage locker, is decent. Peering through the window, I don’t notice any big tears in the upholstery or any obviously missing parts like, say, a dashboard. I do some quick calculations: This car is parked head-in, neatly between the lines. It couldn’t have been towed there that way, so I assume it was driven into position. It wasn’t there last time I visited my friend, but he said it showed up shortly thereafter. That means it’s been there since the summer of 2005. The tags on the license plate, however, expired a couple of years before that. What gives?

I ask my friend to do some sleuthing into who the owner might be. I want to make an offer.

Months pass. I think on and off about the car. My friend makes a couple of casual queries, to no avail. I narrow down the body style to falling into the ’61-’63 “Bullet Bird” category. My friend, who can actually SEE the car, verifies (by the “gills” on the side) that it’s a ’63.

42,806 hardtops were produced for the 1963 model year

The more I think about this car… well, the more I think about it. I assume that, while it most likely was running when it was parked, it doesn’t run now. All of the dust/dirt that has blown into the interior has also blown into the engine compartment. The oil will have become sludge. The battery will be dead. Anything that was merrily floating around in the gas tank is now settled firmly on the bottom. The hoses and belts will be dry and brittle.

390 Special V-8 (300 Horsepower) • 4-Barrel Holley Carburetor/Single Exhaust System

I am not a mechanic. I don’t have any friends who are mechanics. I could use AAA to tow the car… where? Since my favorite guys closed up their shop, I don’t even have mechanics for my own car. Who on Earth would I trust to work on a 45-year-old Ford? I can’t work on it at my place, nor can I park an unregistered vehicle. I have to check state regs, but I’m not sure that I can register a non-running car (Don’t I need an emissions check? Or would it be waived for a car of this age?) That is, if the car even has a title to transfer. I know it did back in 2003-ish, but why hasn’t it been registered since?

All-Transistor AM Radio • MagicAire Heater-Defroster

I believe the color is Patrician Green, which is actually a mid-tone metallic blue with a turquoisey hue. Of course, it might be Acapulco Blue, but not having actually seen the car in many months, and not having swatches in hand to go by, it’s hard for me to tell.

Cruise-O-Matic (Automatic, 3-Speed)

The community in which my friend lives has been under construction in various sections for years, and now the builder wants to finish out one last plot. The plot that the ’bird is parked right in front of. The builder has asked that all cars be removed from that area.

Power Steering • Power Brakes • Swing-Away Steering Wheel

I asked my friend to throw himself in front of any tow trucks that start circling the lot.

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The Town That Fun Built

An old Jersey friend (that is, I’ve known her for a long time, not that she’s old!) shared this vintage promotional video today. Seaside Heights was a day trip for me growing up, and I used to go down a couple of times every summer. I spent HOURS in Lucky’s Arcade, without ever knowing that it had such history! After all these years, only two mementos remain from my days on the boardwalk: a Lucky Coin (perhaps two, but I can’t currently find PROM 88 DEWD), and the uppermost piercing in my left ear. Also, the memory of my friend Kim looking at me at the top of the log flume and saying, “Your hair DOES look better when it’s wet!” Good times, good times.

Note: this little film is 16 minutes long! However, it’s totally worth watching if you enjoy amusement parks, or the shore, or boardwalks, or hyperbolical marketing videos, or 1960.

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Helpful Household Hint: sleepitude

Note: When awakened by the hum of distant early morning commuter traffic, it is best to get up and close the window at that time instead of trying to sleep through it and waking every 5-10 minutes until you finally find the wherewithal to crawl out of bed.

On the other hand, pat me on the back for going to bed at a reasonable hour instead of watching the finish of an incredible display of men’s gymnastics. Forget the bodybuilders who are all about form and nothing about function; these boys have it going on. The sheer strength required to pull off their performances is mind-blowing. If you can find video of Justin Spring (USA) on the horizontal bar, or Chen Yibing (China) on the rings, by all means watch it.

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Krazy Jail Time

Setting: Hot rod/kustom car show hosted by Krazy Kreations and Xtreme Collision in Westminster, CO.
Cast of characters: Three pretty gals, and one adorable pinstriper working on a motorcycle in the garage.

M: That pinstriper is cute.
T: Cha, YEAH.
M: Yeah, I thought you’d like him. He looks young, though. Like, you-could-go-to-jail-for-that young.
T: Seriously. Shoot, is he even 18? He looks about 16. I can’t tell anymore.
A: He could just have a baby face.

(looked at more cars outside; now making second pass through garage for some relief from the sun and once again watching the striper at work)

T: I just overheard someone say he’s 21.
M: (Disappointed) Oh, man.
T: (Jokingly) Hey, that’s legal!
A: (rejoining conversation) He’s 21? That’s legal!
T: My thoughts exactly! I should ask him to stripe my shoes.

A conversation followed wherein I attempted to hire him to pinstripe my shoes. He seemed uninterested; I didn’t pursue it further. Pinstriping under pressure is no good, and 21 is awfully young, after all. Perhaps we scared him. Later, while chatting with Scott, a car owner whom I’ve run into a few times, I noticed The Kid was curled up in the footwell of my acquaintance’s car, pinstriping the dashboard. Scott was suggesting that “Junior” should get himself some business cards so that Scott could send more work Junior’s way. Junior explained that he actually lives in Utah, and was just passing through. As my friends and I were taking our leave, I overheard Junior say to Scott, “I’m Bo Huff’s kid.”

Oh, shit. I was just crushing on Jr Huff. Jr Huff who is SEVENTEEN. I’m going straight to Hell.

Photos of my visit to the Hell travel agency, taken with my phone because I forgot my camera, can be seen if you click on Jr’s photo.

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