DaVinci Days

This weekend Payton and I went to DaVinci Days, which is a really cool yearly event in Corvallis, Oregon that I had never heard of until late last year. It celebrates the art of Leonardo DaVinci, and people build his inventions and race them. Check out this year’s entries in my Flickr photo set. There’s a lot of earthy-type stuff there, such as alternative energies and random science exhibits. I also made a video of the sidewalk chalk art as we walked back to our car, which is below.

The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies played there on Friday, which I missed. They would have been fun to see. There was also a Geocaching booth, which I donated a bunch of buttons and my old GPS unit to. I volunteered at the booth, but they were overstaffed so I didn’t have to stick around. Instead Payton and I entered the geocaching competition, where we walked all over OSU’s campus, looking for caches. We found 3 before quitting and going to Circle K for lunch. The best one was at a bike rack, where we searched for 30 minutes and finally found it in a water bottle that was attached to a chained up bike on the rack.

I wore a sleeveless shirt, showing off my Bell tattoo, and some girl came up and asked if she could take a picture of it. She said her mom used to work for some phone company. Then she asked if I worked for a phone company and I replied, “No, I work against the phone companies.” That’s a standard reply I used to give to reps/operators at phone companies when they’d ask me that question after starting to wonder why I was asking them so many weird phone company-related questions.

My paid Flickr account expired, I just noticed. I guess they notified me by emailing me at my Yahoo email address, which is impossible to use because their spam filters suck so bad. One of the limitations of a non-paid account is that I can only have a certain number of pictures up. And from what I can tell, they just deleted all my old photos from the past 20 years instead of archiving them for me for when I pay again. So that sucks. Not that I actually lost anything, but I’m sure not going to pay and upload all that stuff again. I need to just set up a photo album on my homepage again. Screw paying $25/year for photo storage.

I wrote a song dedicated to Electric Dreams, which is a movie I loved in the 1980’s.

I set up a page for my music at notla.com/music/ and added that song to it. It’s the first non-parody song I’ve ever completed. I realize I can’t sing that great, but I love doing all this stuff and I’ve actually written quite a few songs in the past that I never got around to finishing. I have a bunch that were half-performed but I’d given up on because I hated how they sounded or it was just too difficult to create the music for them. But in May or June I discovered a program called Mixcraft that lets me easily record multiple tracks of music and makes creation with my Casio keyboard so incredibly easy. Looking back now, it’s insane, the lengths I went to to create those older songs using Cool Edit.

This month I’ve actually used Mixcraft to write and perform 2 songs for podcasts, which I’m not going to post anywhere until after they play them. And I put together music for a song that Spessa wrote and redid an older song of mine with it, which I’m still not completely happy with. And I’ve got a couple more ready to be started on AND I put together a few random beats/tunes to be used in future songs. So I’m expecting to do a lot with this. I’m even planning to pay for the software once I can afford it since it’s so reasonably priced. Well okay, it’s actually because I can’t find it on bittorrent. But it’s totally worth it – less than $100.

kids maps

A couple weeks ago I got sick of the kids not going outside all day, so I printed out a Google map of about a 1 mile diameter in our neighborhood and sent them on a mission. Which was to bike on every single street in the neighborhood, coloring in the street with a marker as they finished each one, and to take pictures of every interesting thing they saw. It took them over an hour and they came back with about 20 pictures. I need to think of more weird stuff like that for them.

Speaking of that, though, I love the way kids play today. I know it’s probably not good for them to sit in the house staring at LCDs all day, but it’s so cool, seeing the different games they come up with within these multiplayer games. It’s basically the same stuff we did as kids (tag, etc.), only they have heavy artillery to play with in games like Halo 3 and they’re playing with kids around the world instead of kids on the same block. Instead of exchanging phone numbers with each other like I did in school, they’re exchanging Xbox Live and YouTube IDs. A few months ago Payton pulled an orange peel out of his pocket, explaining that a girl had carved her Runescape ID into it with a fork. Ten years ago I never would have suspected that every grade schooler in America would be so computer savvy.

Several days later edit – Emily’s latest Halo video….

One last thing – I’ve been watching a lot of weird movies lately. Netflix is awesome at recommending weird movies to me based on other movies I watch, and I usually take its advice. This week it was Noise and Cashback, which were both really interesting and bizarre. I’m watching more independent movies than I ever have before. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m old or because Netflix makes me. I set up a page of movies I own awhile back, which is here. Actually owning a movie is so pointless these days, but I want to keep some sort of list of movies I’ve seen because I know I’m going to forget the names of some of these and it’ll drive me nuts in the future if I want to see them again. So that’s my half-hearted attempt at cataloging my movies. I’ll get around to making it better eventually.

One more last thing! Michael Jackson died last month and they’re still talking about it on the news and blogs. Seeing all this nonstop coverage about him makes me wonder why he’s the “king of pop” even. Sure he had some hits in the 80’s, but so did other people. What makes him so special? His music sucked in the 90’s and 2000’s, just like the other 80’s hasbeens. Some infomercial guy died too and I can’t understand how that was big news. Do people like infomercials that much?? And two other people died, who people claim were icons, but I know nothing about either of them. And oh yeah, we went to the moon 40 years ago this week. I’m having a hard time understanding what that accomplished other than, “Oh neat, we spent kabillions of dollars going to the moon instead of feeding starving children.”


I’m sucking at this whole blog thing lately. Stuff is happening, but I’m just too busy with other stuff to write about anything. I’m going to Vegas soon. And other places after that. I biked and geocached alone a couple weeks ago and got pretty sunburned. I made a song and video, based on one of my favorite 80’s movies. I’m addicted to finding apps for my iPhone. Mostly just the free ones, but I can occasionally part with 99 cents for one too. I need to get the WordPress app so I can update this thing from my phone.

Also Geocached the other day with Mr. Spessa and the kids, which was fun. Their visit netted us a full week of insanely fun fun fun, much of which I’m not going to talk about. But it was fun. Last Monday we did The Phone Show together, which was so great that it lasted 2 hours instead of 1. Spessa taught all our kids to play D&D, which I couldn’t figure out on my own. She found a cool D&D store in Albany too.

Today I was quoted in this Fox news article, which is about Dex and PrankNET. I’ve been tired all day. All last week I stayed up late and got up early. I need a Pepsi. Tonight I’m going to a concert in the park with Kate & Co.

Happy July 4th!

Here’s the craziest fireworks stories I can think of…

You know those pink tube things that just spin around on the ground making cool colors? Did you know if you light it in your hand, wait for the fuse to burn almost all the way out and then throw it up into the air, it flies around in the air really good? That’s what I’ve always loved doing with them and surprisingly I’ve never set one off in my hand that way.

As a teenager I decided to tie fishing line around one of these and dangle it out my 2nd story window by a broom handle to see which way it would fly. It immediately burned away the fishing line and quickly hovered up and then over – straight into my bedroom window as I jumped out of the way. I watched in shock as this glowing ball of fire hovered in the middle of my room for a few seconds. Then it went out and fell to the floor, not burning anything. It was awesome, but I decided not to try that experiment again.

The cool fireworks were illegal in Illinois, so we had to drive across the Mississippi into Missouri for the good stuff. I think my brother and his friends actually biked over there for fireworks before they had drivers licenses. Apparently fireworks stands didn’t care that kids were buying things. I think it was when he was 16 and I was 14 that we drove over there and got a ton of bottle rockets. And for days we drove around, shooting them at people from the car. We’d just hold them in our hands, light them and aim at people, houses, cars, etc.

Probably the funnest thing was driving up to the golf course in Wood River and shooting them down at golfers. It was great seeing them down there with tiny explosions of smoke happening all around them. They just stood there, looking up at our car, helpless to do anything about it as we laughed hysterically. This was the 80’s, so nobody had cell phones to report us with.

In high school I set off a pack of 100 saturn missles in a hallway during lunch, which is detailed on this page.

Dropping lady bugs (I think that’s what those tiny firecrackers are called) into a 20oz bottle of water is fun because it makes the bottle bounce up into the air and sprays water around. And dropping those colored smoke bombs into buckets of water creates the coolest effect ever.

Once I got a drivers license, Mike Tankersley and I had a lot of fun reliving the things my brother and I used to do with fireworks. Mostly driving up and down alleys, shooting bottle rockets at houses or throwing exploding things over fences. We had a few close calls with cops, like when I’d just shot a bottle rocket out of my hand into a yard and I looked up to see a cop driving by on the cross street. Luckily he wasn’t looking our way.

In Junior High I used to boobie trap everything in class with poppies – those white balls of paper that pop when you throw them at the ground. A few times I boobie trapped doors with those firecracker-type things with the strings on either side of it that are about as loud as a firecracker, so that when doors were opened they would explode. During lunch we’d tie these to classroom doors that were in session and we could hear them explode from anywhere in the school.

I know there’s more, but I can’t think of anything right now. I’ll have to come back and revise this with more of my stupidity later. Today the kids and I are driving up to Portland for the day and we’ll watch the fireworks display there tonight. I bought some sparklers, poppies and confetti poppers to do on the riverfront. I don’t think they allow anything stronger than that there.

7/5 EDIT: Kristine commenting reminded me of my Eastgate fireworks escapades! During the construction of the additional auditoriums I started bringing bottle rockets in and shooting them off inside. They would hit the ceiling and explode. I can’t remember what the ceiling was made of it but it never burst into flames and killed all the moviegoers in the other auditoriums.

After awhile I started sticking a few dozen bottlerockets into the launcher at once and using a lighter and an aerosol can as a flamethrower to ignite them all at once. The noise was fantastic! Eventually Debbie got sick of it and posted a list of rules on the bulletin board which included no fireworks, no skateboarding behind the concession stand and no radios. She wasn’t really into confrontation. The list was hilarious.

My Tattoo

Yesterday Spessa dragged me, kicking and screaming, to a tattoo shop to get my very first tattoo. I put about 15 years of thought into the design before finally deciding on the 1969 Bell logo. The PLA forum people gave a few suggestions but I just wasn’t ready for Roy Orbison on my butt. Maybe next time. Here’s a series of pictures from yesterday, the first being the parental consent form that Spessa signed for me. Thanks Spessa!

1969 Bell Logo tattoo

1969 Bell Logo tattoo

1969 Bell Logo tattoo

1969 Bell Logo tattoo

1969 Bell Logo tattoo

1969 Bell Logo tattoo

1969 Bell Logo tattoo

I picked the Bell symbol since the phone company has been a life long obsession for me and because I’ve always loved the simplicity of their logo. Also because the name Bell as a phone company is almost dead now, which is kind of sad. Only Cincinnati Bell and Bell Canada are left, I think. Everything else has been assimilated into AT&T and Verizon.

It took about an hour and was $80. They put my image into Photoshop and made a transfer out of it to stick on my arm, then just traced the lines. I thought that a skilled artist would just draw it from the picture we brought in. Not too surprisingly, the tattoo guy says it’s the first Bell symbol he’s done his 14 years as a tattooer.

The original 1980’s Harry Potter movie

Back in the 1980’s I was channel surfing and came across a movie on cable that was just starting called Troll. It was pretty bizarre and was about this Troll who was systematically taking over each unit of an apartment building in an attempt to rule the world. Something reminded me of it recently so I put it in my Netflix queue and the kids and I watched it. And it turned out the main character’s name was a boy named Harry Potter.

Not only was his name Harry Potter, but his name was stated quite clearly many times throughout the movie as he battled trolls and talking plants and befriended a witch that lived upstairs from him. So I decided to throw a little more confusion into the world by editing together all of those parts into a small collection of clips and put them on YouTube, claiming that it’s common knowledge that J.K Rowling based her Harry Potter books off of the original Harry Potter movie from the 1980’s. Here’s the result:

I blew 2 or 3 hours on this last night, just to hopefully confuse a few people before YouTube yanks it down for copyright violations. I’m truly a dedicated jerk! If you’re too lazy to read the description I put on YouTube for it, here it is:

I caught this on TV a few weeks ago and decided to Tivo it. I never realized that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books were based on an early 1980’s movie by the same name.

The story is quite different, taking place in an apartment building called Hogwarts. Harry is trained in magic by a neighbor lady named Eunice McGonagall. Harry’s parents are actually alive in this one and Harry’s father is named Harry too. His father went to a university called Gryffindor and you can see Gryffindor’s logo stamped on this ratty old hat he wears throughout the movie. (Notice he wears Gryffindor colors throughout the whole movie too.) Harry also has a sister who gets kidnapped by Voldemort. Voldemort is this giant muppet who he battles in the end.

Pretty interesting to watch and see what the original vision of the Harry Potter universe looked like! Look for it on cable TV, because it appears that it’s never been on DVD and the VHS is out of print.

Watch spam??

A few months ago I re-enabled the “catchall” on the phonelosers.org email, meaning that I get all email addressed to anything at phonelosers.org. So email bradcarterisabigretard@phonelosers.org and I get it. I forget why I did that, but since then I’ve started getting over 3,000 spam emails a day. Luckily Gmail rules at filtering spam and very few of them end up in my in box. (The spam folder currently has 27,532 messages in it.) But this one came earlier this week, into my in box, and made me laugh:

Looks like someone forgot to fill in all the important fields in their spamming script before sending it to billions of people. I submitted it to The Fail Blog, which is why it’s got the big FAIL on there. But the weird thing is the insane amount of WATCH spam that I get. I bet 1/4th of my spam is for watches. Like, those metal and leather things people wore on their wrists back in the dark ages before cell phones. Check out these weird subject lines and emails though:

Our watches are popular all over the world. Precious watches that look elegant and expensive are actually very cheap. No , this is not a dream, this is replica watches. Order yours today and it will reach your place in no time.

Your watch will be delivered to any destination. What can be better than fast and secure shipment of elegant designer watches? Maybe just an extremely low price of these watches. For a few hundred dollars you can buy as many watches as you want.

Check out Bling Bling watches Only limited to 1000 pieces worldwide, they are expected to sell out within a month.

Our stylish watches are priceless but not pricy. Being elegant and trendy takes too much time and money but we know how to help you. First, you save your time by ordering online, second, you save your money by buying replica watches that are identical to the brand ones.

Very lovely watches at very lovely prices. The top quality and low price of our watches attracts customers from all over the world. So no matter where you live you can be a happy owner of such a timepiece as we ship them worldwide.

Watch the prices drop for that cool watch.

Today is a great time to think about getting a watch.

No, spammer, 1997 was a time to think about getting a watch! I think the last time I wore a watch was 1999. I had one of those phone book watches that could sync to my computer by just looking at the flashing computer screen. It was cool. IN 1999!

Sorry, watch wearers. I’m not actually that anti-watch. I do think watches are cool and look nice but I’m just not that stylish and I can’t imagine blowing money on a thing that does what my cell phone already does since that goes everywhere with me. The spam is just weird though. I’m used to business opportunity spam and “your rich Nigerian uncle died” spam and magic hair growing potion spam and this spam I have here that says, Your manhood will come back to you like a boomerang. But watch spam? That’s just strange. Do any of you get watch spam?

It IS a Nova!

Yesterday I was driving Payton home from school when this car pulls up next to me and the fat lady in the passenger seat is loudly arguing with the 3 heavily tattooed men in the car with her that my Ford Focus is a Nova and they’re wrong about it not being one. So she decides to get confirmation from me and I say, “Yes, this is definitely a Nova!” and she seems satisfied that she won the argument as one of the tattooed men eyes me from the back seat like he wants to kill me. I wonder how many more confrontations like this I can expect with my new Nova emblem.

Terminator 4: The Quest For More Money

Saturday we saw a couple movies. Terminator Salvation first, which I was kind of disappointed in. Pretty boring storytelling, even if there was lots of neat action. Then we snuck into Night at the Museum 2. I liked it, but not quite as much as the first one. When NatM didn’t start for 10 minutes after it was scheduled, I finally called up the movie theater (I worked there 13 years ago and for some reason I still remember their phone number) and said, “Your projectionist has fallen asleep. Could you have someone start up Night at the Museum?” and he says sure. Then I said, “Oh, also…there’s a guy in that theater who is talking on his cell phone when he’s not supposed to. Could you ask him to stop?” The guy responded with something like “In which theater is he?” and I said, “In this one! I’m talking about me! I’m kidding with you!” and hung up on him. Payton found it amusing.

Today we went on a hike and ended up finding about 5 Geocaches along the way. Kate was there and so was Dude and his family. One of the Geocaches was hanging from a very high tree branch and impossible to reach with just your hands. To even get that far you had to walk across a fallen log to reach the tree that it’s in. Dude is coming back with some kind of 8′ pole/hook combination. I’m not that dedicated though.

Kids and I went swimming this afternoon. Emily told me she’d tried to call me from the pool phone while I was away, but the phone wouldn’t dial. I tried to prove her wrong, but realized she was right because the keypad didn’t respond to anything. So I was able to pass on a bit of wisdom (aka show off) by showing them how switchhook pulse dialing worked (You tap the switch hook quickly for each number you dial.) and I was able to dial another extension. Some boy who was hanging out with them thought it was the coolest thing he’d ever seen and immediately started dialing random numbers that way. As we left and shut the door, we could hear him pounding on the switch hook from the other side of the wall.

Cat Trek Gym Machines

I made a new post for signhacker.com today which features wonderful pictures such as this one:

Been cat sitting a lot this weekend, which is fun just for the change of scenery on either side of my laptop screen. Saw Star Trek last night with Angela. And wow. It was awesome. The only other Star Trek movie I’ve seen is Generations in 1994 and only because I worked at the movie theater. And I really liked that one, but this one was great. It makes me want to put every Star Trek movie ever made on my Netflix queue. So I did.

For some reason I just never got into Star Trek. As a kid, I would come across the 60’s version occasionally on TV and I would try to watch it but I thought it looked stupid. I caught just a few episodes of Generations while it was on TV and thought it looked neat, but not neat enough to watch it every week. I’ve probably seen less than 10 full episodes of that. Just about every friend I had in the early 90’s was a Trekkie and most of them would insist that Star Trek is the kind of thing I would like and that I’m crazy not to watch it. Guess I was just too busy being homeless or obsessing over BBSes back then.

In 1997 I got into Voyager for a short time, mostly because Colleen worked in the evenings and I was at home with Emily on Sunday nights and nothing better was on. I got to see the whole 7 of 9 drama unfold, from the very beginning, during my month or two of watching that. I think BNF must have happened soon after that, which completely killed my interest in everything that wasn’t BNF, including Voyager.

Tomorrow night is The Phone Show. Listen to it!

I’m listening to Per Gessle’s Son Of A Plumber this evening. It’s good stuff and much different than his current Silly Really hit, which I’ve been loving for a couple of weeks now. I need to get his new album. murd0c tells me that he used to be one of the guys who sang in Roxette, which is an 80’s band I used to like. But murd0c is a filthy liar, so it’s probably not true.

My stairs are finally completed!

A few years back, in 2001, I bought a house and started obsessively renovating everything at once. One of the projects was chopping a giant hole in the living room ceiling and putting in an open staircase, which I never quite finished (pictures of that project are here).

Yesterday, though, I decided to do a search for the names of the people currently renting that house and I found one of their Myspaces. And in her photo album is my completed stairs! Here’s the picture:

Kind of cool to see it all done. Too bad the other families Myspaces are private or I might be able to see more pictures of the finished house. I’ll have to keep secretly stalking this lady, hoping for glimpses of my old unfinished projects.

This makes me want to find Myspaces of people who live in other old houses of mine to see what they’ve done with their places! I’m so creepy.

EvilCal called me up and IMed me yesterday. I hadn’t talked to him on the phone in at least a year. He was telling me about his current renovation projects and I think that’s what made me decide to stalk this lady to find pictures of my house.

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