Ow, my eye!

On Wednesday I had lunch with some friends, then soon after I got back home my eye is suddenly really itchy and it’s driving me crazy. I search the house for eyedrops and can’t find any. So I take some Benadryl which seems to help a little. Later I go to a mirror to check out my eye and it’s completely red and puffy and in pain. Looks kind of swollen. Pinkeye? I dunno, I’ve never had it. I check the internet and all the symptoms seem to match. Finally I find some eye drops and I think that helped a little.

Yesterday it’s better but still kind of itchy. I took more Benadryl first thing in the morning, not realizing that Benadryl makes you really tired. I’m rarely sick so I just don’t know these things. Spessa clued me in about this later in the day after I complained about how tired I was. So I spent the day eating tons of junk food to stay awake. I got a gigantic Slurpee from 7-Eleven which helped a lot, but kept giving me major brain freeze issues. Ate a whole bag of Fritos, half a can of Pringles, pudding cups, toast, and KFC for dinner. Around noon I took a 20 minute nap, but then forced myself up to continue working. Kids and I went to Payton’s open house and then to the gym/pool. I was really happy to finally go to sleep last night.

Today my eye is looking much better, but still a little red and slightly itchy. No Benadryl today, since I need to be awake. Sleeping in tomorrow will be nice. This weekend I’m catsitting for a friend, which means instead of sitting around my house on the internet all day I’ll be sitting around her house on the internet all day. While my own cat sits at home, bored, alone and ignored. I might be going to see Star Trek this weekend too.

This week Spessa and I had fun messing with a FreeCycle group, which is in a protected area of the PLA Forums or I’d link to it. One little spoofed message by me to the group caused a huge uproar from the members. It was great. Said goodbye to Molly – she’s moving to D.C. for a job.

I joined the collective this week – I upgraded to an iPhone. I’d been a Blackberry user for nearly 2 years up until now, which I really loved but it still lacked in a lot of areas. Like effortlessly syncing podcasts, which I really missed after giving up my ipod. Plus the Blackberry has been crashing a lot lately. I’m really loving the iPhone so far though. I thought I would hate not having a real keyboard, but I’m already typing pretty fast and mostly error-free on its virtual keyboard.

The Geocaching app is not only a billion times cooler on the iPhone, but it’s not $5.99/month like the BB one was. So I’m saving money on that now. And the Slacker streaming radio program actually works on the iPhone and it sounds great. On the Blackberry is was either cutting out constantly or was at a horribly low bitrate that sounded awful. It’s almost enough to make me want to cancel my Sirius radio subscription and just listen to Slacker in the car. Skype and YouTube also works really well on the iPhone so far. It’s a $200 phone, but I’ll be making around $150 by selling my Blackberry on Ebay.


Back in 1993 I worked at a movie theater in Indianapolis and met a guy named Shane there who I became friends with. Then I left Indianapolis forever, in fear of the IRS comin’ to get me. But then I swung by Indianapolis again several months later to pick up Shane and fly him all over the country on stolen credit card numbers for Spring Break.

In just under a week, we visited San Diego, Galveston and Cincinnati. Cincinnati was the town we nearly got arrested in after a cop, suspecting us of vandalizing a pay phone, searched my bag and found a bank’s courtesy phone that I’d stolen earlier in the day. Later that night we were both sleeping in a friend’s basement and heard the cops upstairs, apparently taking our friend away. Luckily they didn’t come down for us too. Early the next morning we quietly slipped out a basement window and got the hell out of his neighborhood, hoping not to be spotted by cops on the way to a bus stop. It was fun and more details are at www.notla.com/travels/. While we were eating somewhere in San Diego, Shane drew this comic of Jim Bayless, a man who is kind of a staple of PLA. It was a great vacation and it’s a miracle that we made it back to Indianapolis with no legal mishaps, considering I was scamming these airline tickets on the fly as we reached each new city.

Colleen and I visited Shane once again in 1994 when we took a vacation (free, of course) to Indianapolis to see him. After that, I never saw him again. UNTIL…15 years later (last night) I noticed his name on a ShmooCon site. A little more digging around found that this Shane was also in Indiana. And then even more Googling found a video of Shane and it was actually him! From reading various websites that him and his friends were on, I found that Shane and I have probably been passing each other at various hacker cons for years now. He’s been a ShmooCon, PhreakNic, Defcon and Notacon.

So I emailed him last night and we did some catching up today. He was equally surprised to hear from me. Both of us assumed that we’d never hear from each other again and it’s kind of a bizarre way to come across each other, especially since back in 1994 neither of us knew that the other was even into computers. Turned out he was manning a table in the very room we kept using to sneak into ShmooCon and his voice can even be heard in the video I made of us sneaking in. A friend of Shane’s showed me an email today from 2005 where he’d written me to ask permission to use PLA material on a broadcast they were doing at a con.

Just bizarre that we’ve been at all these same places together and never knew it. Kind of reminds me of how I was friends with my biological brother in high school, both pining for the same girl for a couple of years, then finding out we were brothers 10 years later. Shane’s going to be at Defcon this year so I’ve got to hunt him down.

Oh yeah, speaking of hunting down old friends, Kristine and I managed to find Brad Thompson last week, a guy we both worked with back in the 80’s. He’s part of the reason (indirectly) I ended up moving to Galveston when I left my parents house in 1991. When I got there he got me a job as a painter with him. Was kind of fun catching up with him too. The internet rules for tracking down random old friends. I need to do this more often.


For a little over a week now I’ve been completely addicted to Roswell. It’s an old TV show from 1999 about aliens. Basically a teen soap opera with lots of aliens and making out. I remember seeing commercials for it on TV, back when it came out but never got around to watching it even though when I was married our TV was on nonstop.

Last week I was browsing through the television selections on hulu.com for something random to watch while I did some other things and I picked Roswell. And I’ve done nothing productive since then. It’s a ridiculous show, with nonstop love scenes that make me wanna puke and the gayest music ever, but it’s still great. In just a week I’ve watched 2 1/2 seasons of their 45 minute episodes. Only the first season was on Hulu so I downloaded the rest on bittorrent. Only 8 episodes to go and I’m free! Free to resume my life and quit staring at my laptop all day.

In non-Roswell news, Emily had a birthday. I got her a D&D starter kit, even though I know nothing about D&D. The kids and I and two of their friends went to see 17 Again at the theater, which I expected to not enjoy at all but it was actually not so bad. Today we had dinner at Denny’s and then stopped by Goodwill for some speakers. This evening I ran speaker wires to the new speakers for my stereo. Doesn’t that sound like an 80’s thing to do? Who has a stereo anymore? I use an old stereo that I got from Goodwill for the sound on my computer. While stripping various wires tonight, I remembered how much I got yelled at as a kid for using my mom’s scissors as wire strippers and butter knives from the kitchen as screwdrivers. And I think it was my babysitter that used to complain at me for using my teeth to strip wires. (Which is how I discovered that phone wires have enough current in them to shock you.) Now that I’m an adult I get to do all that stuff guilt-free.

Hrmm, more things happened but as usual I’m old and can’t remember much. Molly came by to pick up all my boxes because she’s moving to D.C. I’ve been texting the hell out of Jessica this weekend, and she is currently watching the pilot episode of Roswell because I ranted to her about it, so I might have a new recruit for that show. Tomorrow night is The Phone Show, which I’m being ordered to clean up my act on. (No more cursing.) I think that’s it. Time to go watch the rest of episode #10 in season #3 before I go to sleep.

Geocaching in Tangent

Biked about 15 miles today, looking for Geocaches. Had to quit when the battery on my cell phone died. Took a few pictures.

Closing in on a cache.

A microcache, hanging from a tree.

I think I’m going to bye this truck.

Hey look, a 38-year-old car for just $4,000!

A ripped up old chair with an arm missing for FREE!

Went Geocaching yesterday too. We did 8 or 9 of them during a hike. Had Mexican food and saw Knowing, which was a really bizarre movie.

My 2000 Ford Nova

A couple weekends ago I was at a flea market in Eugene and happened across a metal Nova emblem that goes on the back of an old Chevy Nova for $3.00. I thought, “Gee, this would look awesome if I put it on the back of my 2000 Ford Focus! It would cause at least a few instances of WTF from passing motorists who happened to notice it.” So I bought it. And tonight I finally scraped the plastic Focus lettering off the back of my car, drilled a couple of holes and hammered it permanently into the hatchback.

You can still see traces of the word Focus under it, but I plan to blast those away the next time I end up at the car wash. This is how I spend my Friday nights.

This week I’m really loving Silly Really by Per Gessle and We Made You by Eminem. I know I’ll get sick of the Eminem song eventually, as I do with most of his hits. But for now it’s hilarious.

My new cell phone!

Yesterday the kids and I went to Burger King, just to use their free wifi. Emily bought herself the new DS and wanted to try out the online features, but the thing stupidly doesn’t connect to WPA-protected routers. Only WEP. How stupid is that? Get with it, Nintendo! Guess I have to buy one of those stupid USB wifi things that Nintendo makes. Anyone know if that just opens up a WEP backdoor to my network? So if I’m going to use it I may as well just be using WEP on my existing router?

As we’re leaving I notice a cell phone sitting on the seat of an empty booth. A Motorola Razr which belonged to one of the teenage girls who’d been sitting there earlier. She was the loud, obnoxious girl who was yelling across the restaurant at the bus full of soccer players. The screen was caked with her makeup. That’s when you know you’re wearing too much makeup, when you can barely make out the text on the screen because it’s covered in makeup.

Anyway, I pick it up and bring it home with us. I’ve found cell phones before and we’ve used them for all sorts of nefarious purposes, but I decided that I didn’t really want to do anything with this one. If The Spessas were here, sure. But they weren’t, so today I looked through the phone’s address book and called her dad to tell him I had the phone.

He was really happy to hear that it’d been found and said he’d like to come over right away. He even said he’d give me a reward for it, but I told him that was okay. He showed up about 30 minutes later to retrieve the phone and tried to give me $10, but I told him he should tell his daughter to repay the good deed to someone else instead. He laughed and said he would.

Oh yeah, I changed the phone’s background wallpaper to one of the girl’s many slutty self-portraits she had stored on it. Hope her dad loved see that when he turned it on. Even when I do nice things, I’m a huge jerk.

Gamma Dose Rate Meter

The Gamma Dose Rate Meter was probably the coolest thing I saw at the Picc-A-Dilly flea market on Sunday. Me, Kate, Eric and a few other people drove there and spent a few hours. It’s been close to a year since I visited that place. I didn’t buy it, though. I did buy a couple books, some padlocks to pick and a 9-LED flashlight for just $3.00. Went on some hikes too, one on Saturday morning and another on Sunday evening.

Last night me and linear did epiosde #4 of The Phone Show. If anyone reading this wants to listen to the archives, visit www.phonelosers.org/phoneshow/. I’m enjoying doing it. I thought it would be kind of a drag, having to come up with an hour’s worth of show every week, but we’re not even preparing for it. We just take phone calls for most of the hour and hope for the best. So thanks a lot for the show, Party 934!

Last month while looking through all my old envelopes to discover my old addresses, I also came across this handwritten chart, written on the back of my work schedule from Union Station Cine, showing how much money I could make doing quarter roll scams:

This is something I wrote about on my Travels page, but never went into too much detail on. But here’s how it went… In 1992 I discovered that I could pass off rolls of pennies as rolls of quarters to convenience store clerks and other businesses. I did this by taking a roll of pennies and removing 4 of the pennies, then wrapping a couple strips of construction paper around the roll. Stick the finished product into an ordinary paper quarter roll and you’ve got yourself a roll of quarters worth just 46 cents.

In 1992 I’d passed a few of these around Alton and it seemed to work perfectly every time. So Chris Tomkinson and I decide that we’ll spend an entire day, driving from Alton to Paducah, Kentucky, passing out quarter rolls to as many businesses as possible. And by we, I mean me. Chris wasn’t dumb enough to pass the quarters, but I still wanted to split the profits with him if he came along with me.

We had a great time during the trip and the fake quarter rolls paid for our gas and excessive amounts of food and drink all the way there. We also had fun exploring some of Paducah. I don’t know why Chris picked Paducah of all places, but it was a good destination and we got to visit Metropolis, Illinois, the home of Superman! (Or so they claim.)

What I would do is buy something for under $1.00 (usually) and then say, “Could you use any quarters? I happen to have this roll here.” and they would almost always accept it. Then I’d get my $9.00 in change and quickly leave. For the most part, passing the rolls of quarters went smoothly, but I did have occasional close calls. Like one lady who really needed the quarters for her register and started banging them on the edge of the counter to break them, only they wouldn’t break because of the extra layers of paper. I quickly made my way out the door and ran to the car.

Another time the guy opened the roll before giving me my change and saw that there were pennies inside. I had to pretend that I was the one who got scammed by some other store. “The clerk at 7-Eleven had to give me this yesterday because they were out of large bills!” I can’t remember if he seemed to believe me, but at least he didn’t jump over the counter and tackle me for it.

And then there’s the lady who discovered the fakes as I was talking to her and backing out the door. She sees the pennies and goes, “Hey!” I quickly exit and run to my car. Luckily she had to walk around the long counter before she could make it out the door. I was in my car and starting it when she burst out of the front doors and towards my car. I backed out of my place and just kept backing up out of the parking lot and down the street. This particular incident actually happened before Paducah, in East Alton right across the street from the police station.

In between hitting stores, Chris put together the fake rolls of quarters while I drove. I had a metal file box filled with all the necessary supplies for making fakes. I guess we weren’t too worried about fingerprints because I don’t remember us taking any precautions against that. Guess it’d be hard to lift prints from construction paper, though.

Our last close call was very late at night as we were making our way home. On some Illinois highway, cops were stopping all cars and checking for drunks. Before we got up to the checkpoint we were pretty sure that it was some kind of state-wide manhunt for quarter roll scammers. They check my drivers license and talked to us for a few seconds to make sure we weren’t drinking. They shined their light all over the inside of my car. The metal box full of counterfeiting supplies was on the floor in the back.

The problem came when I couldn’t find my insurance card. I looked everywhere for it and couldn’t find it. Not in the glovebox or the visor. Checked all over the floor. Nowhere. The cop kept leaving and coming back to see if I’d found it. And each time he kept shining his light around my car. He finally had us pull to the side of the road to get out of the way of traffic. Chris was freaking out, sure that they would eventually search the car and find our box. After what seemed like forever, I finally found my insurance card amongst all the trash on my floor and we were allowed to leave. It was a stressful search though.

Our final profits for the day were pretty pitiful. Nowhere near the possible $9,500 that I fantasied we could take in. We didn’t keep track of the money during the trip, but we just spent a lot of it on food, gas and other junk and didn’t have much left by the time we got home. But it was still a fun and completely free trip. After our scamming roadtrip, I gave up on the idea of quarter roll scamming being profitable and never tried it again, mostly because it seemed just too risky. Took me a few more years, though, to give up my dream of scamming for a living.

Our quarter roll scamming did make the police log in the Alton Telegraph. I remember they claimed we’d hit places that we didn’t actually hit, such as the Wood River Donut Shop. So either the police were trying to anger us into calling them and telling them how wrong they were, or there was a copycat criminal out there.

Car stereo thieves looking elsewhere to make those ends

This is kind of weird – this morning in my email I had 20 notifications of all these different sites linking to an old entry of mine from 2006 where my car stereo was stolen. It’s a story about car stereo thefts going down and they’re all using the picture of my broken car window and linking to my site for credit. Nice of them to give me credit for it. (To read the story, look at the comments on the original entry.) Wonder if actual newspapers will end up using my picture.

Camera phone dump 2009

Today I plugged my phone into my laptop to sync some music and decided to delete/move some of the pictures while it was hooked up. Here’s a few of my favorite grainy pictures. This first one is a smoke shop in Corvallis that I was walking by earlier this month.

Here’s my downstairs bathroom light fixture containing red green and blue lights. Only the blue light is more like a black light, so that throws the whole idea of turning RBG into white light out the window. But it still makes cool effects when you’re peeing.

The kids and I were driving in Corvallis and noticed identical shoes coming out of both windows. Look closely and you’ll see there’s feet out the other back window too, but his shoes don’t match. I don’t think the driver had his feet up, but it’s hard to see him.

Here’s a personalized plate we found at Albertsons. I’m wondering if the wife got it for him during a bitter divorce.

This one I took this one a couple days ago in Salem. I asked the guy getting in if I could snap a picture and he said sure and got out of the way for me. He was, as you’d expect, pretty weird.

I didn’t do much this weekend. The kids weren’t around, so I went to Salem to do some shopping and returning. Yesterday I vacuumed the house. Man, that was exciting. I had to dump the vacuum bin 5 times! On Saturday I got up at 5am to do a phone mob, which I turned into a PLA Radio yesterday. I only lasted 90 minutes into it, then went back to bed for a couple more hours. I watched Step Brothers which I didn’t expect much from but ended up LOLing at a lot. I also watched an old 70’s movie called Paper Moon which was really good. Oh yeah, Payton was here for a few hours on Saturday morning and we watched Stephen King’s Christine together. I hadn’t seen it in at least 10 years and it was fun to watch again. Payton liked it too. Geez, I watch too many movies.

A guy from an online “radio” station called Party 934 contacted me a few weeks ago about doing a weekly show on their station. He said I can do pretty much anything I want so I said sure and I’m doing an hour per week. They’re licensed to play actual music and insist that I play at least 4 songs per hour. He says it’s a terrestrial station too and goes out on 102.5 FM in the Hudson Valley in New York. I’m feeling a little skeptical on that part, though, since I can’t find any records on that and last week when I did the show I couldn’t get anyone to call in. It is the middle of the night there, though. From 2am to 3am.

I’m calling it The Phone Show since I’m sure whatever I do with the show will somehow involve phones. I set up a couple computers so that I can take calls on the air with it too, which seems to be working fairly well. (Thanks, Darin Abernathy, for helping me test!) And they gave me a really neat program made for broadcasting online stations. I guess tonight will be the first official show, since I’ve actually announced it on here and on phonelosers.org now. I haven’t prepared a bit for it and I have no idea what I’m going to do on it. It can be listened to on party934.com Monday nights from 11pm PST to midnight. Which is 2am to 3am Tuesday mornings EST. What a horrible time to do a show! The official page for it is www.phonelosers.org/phoneshow but there’s nothing on there yet.

Darin Abernathy

Saturday I was setting up 2 computers with some broadcasting software and Skype so I could take calls. (I’m doing a new show, more on that later.) So I was testing it all out and it seemed to be working perfectly and I could hear it on the internet stream several seconds later. To make sure I had the levels all set right, I decided to make some test calls. Whenever I make test calls for anything, I always default to calling Domino’s Pizza in East Alton, IL. It’s the one John and I pranked a lot as kids and their number is easy to remember. So I called them up and asked a bunch of nonsense questions, as usual, and we hung up.

Then I had more to test so I needed to call another number. I dialed a familiar exchange and then a random 4 digits afterwards and immediately realized that those 4 digits weren’t exactly random. They belonged to a childhood nemesis of mine named Darin Abernathy. This is a guy I haven’t thought of for about 20 years now, but somehow I’m suddenly calling him up and talking to his mom. I have no idea how his number suddenly popped into my head.

So I start in with lots of nonsense to Darin’s mom, asking her meaningless questions like, “So, how’s your dog?” “Uh, we don’t have a dog.” And I needed to test the music function of this software I’m using so I said to her, “Hey, listen to this really awesome song!” and I start playing Roses by Outkast. You know, the piano part. She tells me it’s very nice and I ask her if she was able to hear it okay. It wasn’t too loud or distorted was it? She says no, it sounded fine to her. Then she resumes asking me who I am. I’m Dave.

I don’t know why I didn’t like Darin Abernathy as a kid. He was about 2 years older than me. I know me and John Sever both had something against him. I’m not sure if I brought John into it or he brought me into it or if John was even that much a part of it. I’m not sure if Darin actually did something to warrant my dislike for him or if it was just completely random. I do remember that he seemed to really hate me, but it’s probably because of whatever irritating things I was doing to him. It’s just been so long that I don’t remember. Maybe John will know.

I do remember a few specific things that I did to Darin and his friend though. They would play tennis behind our garage and I would hang out in the garage making insane noises inside. Crashing into things, yelling, starting up the lawnmower, setting off fireworks, etc. Just whatever I could do to irritate them. And it worked too. They would bang on the garage wall at me and yell back. I wasn’t yelling at them though. I was just performing theatrics in the privacy of my own garage. How dare they listen in on me!

I had this plan to mount a big speaker at the peak of the roof inside the garage and run a wire for it underground so that I could annoy them even when it wasn’t possible to go outside and bother them in person. I was dedicated! I even went as far as running the wire along the fence and hiding it with leaves, but I think I ran short of wire or something because I never completely.

Something I did often in the 80’s was hang out on our patio’s swing. You know, a bench hanging from chains? And from this swing I had a perfect view of Darin’s front porch on the next block over, which him and his friends seemed to sit around on a lot. So when we got our first cordless phone I discovered the hilarity of outdoor prank calling by calling his phone number whenever they were outside, just to see them get up and go inside to answer it. I’d hang up before they got in the door, they’d come back out, sit down, then it repeats. At the time it seemed so innovative, having a remote means of dialing the phone from outdoors. Cordless phones were amazing!

Eventually they must have noticed me on the swing talking on the cordless phone in completely unrelated phone calls. And also noticed that I was always there when their phone was mysteriously ringing, because they started yelling at me (from a block away) whenever I called them. I forget exactly what they were yelling.

This tormenting of Darin continued until at least when I was 16 or 17 years old, because I remember using the phone line in my room (which I had installed when I was 16, after I had a job to pay for things like that) to call the Alton Telegraph and set up a fake newspaper ad, listing Darin’s home for rent. This is back in the day when newspapers would set up an ad before getting paid for it. I gave them my own telephone number so that people could call me about the house, I think with the intentions of recording the phone calls and saying funny things to the callers. But then I started telling people to come and look at the house and if we weren’t home to just walk around the house looking in the windows to see what it looks like inside. I made it a really awesome renting deal so there were lots of calls.

I guess when I left home and went to Texas I completely forgot about him. Weird that I dialed his number like that, after all these years. And even after I was so weird at his mom the other day, she still kept talking to me so I asked if Darin was around. I expected her to say, “Oh no, he hasn’t lived here for 15 years!” but instead she told me he was out for the day and then she gave me his cell phone number. I called it for another test of my system, but only got his voicemail. I babbled to his voicemail for awhile and played Roses in its entirety, then talked a little while longer, mostly about issues I was having with software. His voicemail seems to have unlimited recording capacity. I should give him a call later and apologize to him! I bet he’d love that.

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