Was just finishing up editing a show this afternoon when the power went out. Which is completely normal here, it happens at least once a month and comes back on within a minute. But this time it didn’t come back on, so I scrambled to save all my work before the UPS ran out of battery. Which involved figuring out which plugs I had put in the wrong place because my monitors turned off but my ceiling lights stayed on. Whoops. The power was out from about 5pm to 8:30pm. Traffic outside my window was crazy, backed up because of the traffic lights being down.

It came back on just long enough for me to finish up the show editing and get it posted. Then it went out again. This time it was dark out. I immediately got some shoes on and went for a walk toward downtown. No street lights were on and very little moon was out, so it was awesomely pitch black. It took over five minutes to cross the Ellsworth intersection because it was very busy traffic and the traffic lights were out. I had to wait for the cars to be completely gone so I didn’t die.

Since a lot of stores weren’t able to close down properly I kept bumping into their sidewalk signage. There weren’t a lot of people out, so I guess the bar never bothered opening. I’ve walked downtown before when they had the power shut off to replace all the streetlights, but this was a lot cooler than that since there was no light in any direction. I was able to see tiny LED lights for cameras or security systems or whatever else would be on the sides of buildings. The best part was being able to see the stars from downtown which is usually impossible. I wish I’d brought my glasses.

The outage didn’t last quite an hour and I was on 2nd when everything turned back on. A lot of the businesses forgot to turn off their inside lights when they closed down during the outage so it was extra bright. A lot of OPEN signs were still displayed. I got to see several ATMs attempt to boot back up. I walked around a bit more to admire the weirdness of everything being on at night, then headed down 3rd Street toward 7-Eleven.

A cop car pulled to the side of the road across the street from me. A minute later I notice a lady cop walking on the other side of the street right across from me in kind of weird stance. A second later I see another cop has parked on my side, crossed the street on foot and was meeting her at a building. As I passed the building, they were both at the door, I think looking in, possibly with guns drawn. No idea what the building was. I didn’t hear any craziness behind me for the next few blocks, so I guess that turned out okay.

7-Eleven said they worked at cleaning the store during the outage with flashlights, which sounds hilarious. So that’s my night. Now I’m listening to Justin play Ween on Mixlr, reading Facebook and writing this. Good times! Here’s a video I posted a day or two ago.

Bi-Yearly Update

I got pulled over a couple weeks ago for running a stop sign. On a bike. Yes, on a bike. It was one of those streets that rarely has any cars on it, where I just kind of look both ways and keep going. The cop pulled me over and ran my license. He was really nice about the whole thing and we chatted for a bit, but still kind of weird. He was probably just making sure I wasn’t a tweaker or something. I’ve seen in the local police logs where they’ve pulled over bikes and they had tools and stolen car stereos in their back packs, so maybe I just look like THAT kind of guy.

I don’t think I’ve had an actual ticket since 1997 when I was pulled over for doing 31 in a 25 in Celina, Ohio. I’ve been pulled over 4 or 5 times since then, but I always get warnings instead of tickets. Never speeding really pays off.

I found out this week that my nick appears in a short scene on the new TV show called Mr. Robot. I watched the pilot of this months ago on YouTube and it seemed like an interesting show. The second episode, which I haven’t seen yet, shows an IRC chat room and one of the chat names in room is RBCP. I guess that COULD have been a coincidence, just a random 4 letters, but it’s also possible some guy on the staff of the show stuck it in there. I’m sure they have actual hackers working on the show that know of PLA.


So that’s weird thing #2 that’s happened to me in the past few days. Here’s the post on the 2600 Facebook, where I originally saw it.

Thunder Tweets

Thunder is really rare in Albany. So is lightning. And snow. But I’d say in my 8 years of living in this area, we’ve only had real thunder maybe 3 or 4 times. It’s rare to even hear a rumble off in the distance. It barely exists here. But last night we had a really awesome thunderstorm, lasting nearly an hour with a lot of house-shaking thunder that really freaked out our cat.

These past few years I’ve discovered that anytime anything out of the ordinary happens here, it’s fun to turn on the local Twitter feed and watch everyone freak out about it. So I present to you all…People Who Are Way Too Old To Be Afraid Of Thunder, Being Afraid Of Thunder.

thunder tweets

thunder tweets

thunder tweets

thunder tweets

thunder tweets

thunder tweets

thunder tweets

thunder tweets

So I’m curious – outside of this weird little bubble I live in where normal weather doesn’t exist, are people really this afraid of thunder? In the places I’ve lived before here, Twitter and Facebook weren’t around yet so I never had much opportunity before to get so much enjoyment out of everyone else’s fear. Good times!

Bank Scamster

This relatively new guy at my bank really wants me to cheat the IRS. I’m self-employed and I get checks from different companies, so he starts being nosy and asking what I do. He tells me I definitely need their business account for my business. I tell him I’ve had a business account before and all it did for me was cost me extra fees.

“Well if you have a business account, then you can claim expenses for your business!” he tells me, as if this is revolutionary advice that I’d never have thought of myself.

“I already claim expenses for my business,” I tell him. “I don’t need a business name or a business account to do that.” Then he really starts getting into arguing with me, telling me how I should claim fake expenses and how I should buy an entire car and claim it on my tax return, all while taking FOREVER to give me my money so I can leave. He constantly uses “air quotes” as he tells me about all the things I should be claiming on my return and tells me about how his uncle has his own business and does this stuff all the time.

I tell him that I really don’t think it’s a good idea to cheat the IRS. This, of course, starts another argument where he says it’s not cheating, but it’s “getting creative!” or something like that. It was another air quotes term. I couldn’t believe a bank teller was insisting that I cheat on my taxes, though. Sadly, none of the other tellers or employees were nearby, so they didn’t get to witness this weirdo giving me the worst advice ever.

A day or two later I was back in the bank and once again he was the only teller there. He was just as enthusiastic about cheating the IRS this time, but I managed to escape quickly. All I can remember from this conversation is that I should buy 30 flatscreen computer monitors to claim as expenses, or something like that. THIS IS THE GUY THAT HAS ACCESS TO MY MONEY!

I went home and looked up his name on Facebook, finding him easily. If he’d had his uncle listed under the Family section, I probably would have called him up to ask him about all the tax cheating advice that he gives his nephew, but he didn’t so I didn’t look into it further.

Between that and the other tellers trying to hard-sell me stuff every time I go in there, I’ve mostly stopped going inside the bank anymore. At least in the drive-thru I can avoid eye contact and ignore their sales pitches by turning up the radio. Thanks for making an asocial person like me even more asocial, bank!

Weird people at my door

Last night I got to bed around 3am. This morning, a Saturday, my doorbell rings at 8am. Ugh. I jump up and open the window to see a lady standing there, so I quickly get dressed and run downstairs to see who it is. She’s maybe 50 years old and asks me if some lady lives here. I tell her no, I’ve never heard of that person. Then she asks if I can call a cab for her. Doing an amazing job at being nice since she just woke me up at 8am on a Saturday, I tell her, “Sure, let me go grab my phone.” Before I can shut the door, she asks, “Is that your blanket?” looking at a folded green blanket sitting on one of my outdoor chairs. I’ve never seen the blanket before, but I’m not surprised because weird stuff is always showing up outside my house.

I tell her no and run back upstairs for my cell phone. I make the call for her, we say our goodbyes and she walks to the business next door. At this point going back to sleep is impossible. Once I’m up, I rarely go back to sleep, so I’ve been quietly hating that lady today as I drink Pepsi to stay awake.

The only reason I’m posting this boring story is because a few hours later, as me and the kids left the house to go to lunch, the blanket is gone. I guess the lady came back and took it. I was too asleep this morning to even wonder why she would ask me if a blanket sitting in my chair was mine. Why would she ask me that? It makes no sense. She knew something about this blanket that I didn’t! I told the kids about it as we walked to lunch and we concluded that the old lady was actually a ghost.

A couple days earlier, in the afternoon, the doorbell rang and I went downstairs to answer it. To get to the door, I have to walk down two flights of stairs and across the house, but I don’t think it really takes me that long to get there. I wasn’t fast enough for these old church people, though, because they were nearly out of the driveway by the time I opened the door. I stood there and watched them as they climbed into their car. When the man looked up and saw me, he waved so I slammed the door and went back upstairs.

Five minutes later, they come back and ring the bell again. Five minutes! What were they doing for five minutes? I sure don’t know. I opened the attic window, leaned out and yelled, “Hey, stop ringing my doorbell and running away!” Both of them looked around in confusion, but didn’t look up and see me. I yelled at them “Satan rules!” and the old lady gave an irritated “Okay” and began walking away. I felt bad so I yelled “I love you!” before shutting the window.

Last year, kids items started showing up on the table by my chairs. One day it was a purple stuffed dragon. About a week later a pair of shoes and toy gun was out there. I left the stuff out there for more than a week, hoping whoever mistakingly brought them by would come back and take them. I ended up giving the dragon to Emily and the shoes to Goodwill. I’m pretty sure a homeless man stole the gun. A neighbor of mine yelled at a homeless man one day because he was at their door, stealing cigarette butts from the ashtray. That’s the day that the gun was missing. This was one of those old toy guns made out of metal and could possibly be mistaken for a real gun since there was no giant orange tip on it. So if a 7-Eleven gets robbed by a homeless person, it might be my fault.

The last weird thing at my door was a sandwich in a ziplock bag, along with an unsigned note telling me that if I didn’t post a picture of myself eating it on Facebook, they would kill my children. This was last week and I’m pretty sure it was a drunken Lisa (friend of mine) and her sister leaving it. I threw it away without eating it and so far my kids are still alive.

I got gas!

THEM: “Thank you for calling Northwest Natural Gas. Please enter your account number.”

ME: type type type type on the phone’s keypad.

THEM: “We have your account pulled up. Please say your house number.”

ME: “819”

THEM “For verification, please enter the last 4 digits of your social security number.”

ME: type type type type!

THEM: “Please tell us why you’re calling today.”

ME: “Cancel my account.”

THEM: “It sounds like you’d like to cancel your account. Is this correct? Please say yes or no.”

ME: “Yes.”

THEM: “Which month and day would you like your account canceled?”

ME: “November 18th.”

THEM: “You said November 18th. Is this correct?”

ME: “Yes.”

THEM: “Please hold for a representative…”

Then a rep. comes on the line, asks for my account number, my address, my SSN and asks why I’m calling. Don’t fall for those automated systems, people! I think they’re there just to make you not realize that you’re actually on hold. At least its not as bad as when AT&T’s system once said to me, “You said yes, is this correct? Please say yes or no.”

I moved into a new home last month. It’s awesome. The rent is super cheap, especially compared to my old place, and its got an extra bedroom. I’m just a few blocks from downtown Albany now, meaning I can walk to the post office, the bank and to lunch. I can go for days at a time without driving my car now. It’s a nice change from being way on the edge of town and having to drive miles to everything. The only downside is that there’s no washer and dryer here, so it’s back to making weekly laundromat trips for me. But I’ve got a plan for hooking up a washer and dryer in this place, if I can get the landlord to go along with it.

I’m sick today. It sucks. I haven’t figured out if I’ve given myself food poisoning with hamburger helper or if it’s just flu stuff. That’s all to report for this month. Good day…

Ke7in Drama

Back in 1996, my girlfriend and I moved to Albany, Oregon for about a year. I hadn’t discovered internets yet, so my primary nerd hangout was still BBSes. (Computers that nerds set up in their homes for other nerds to call in to.) After arriving in Albany, I immediately started calling up local BBSes and hanging out on them, posting messages, playing games, etc. One BBS, called Different World, had an odd theme to it. The theme was 7-Eleven. The guy that ran it seemed to work there, since there were references to a particular 7-Eleven in Albany.

A year or two back, I’d written a text file explaining ways of pissing off 7-Eleven employees for the PLA zine (You can view it here.) and I thought the sysop (his name was Kevin) might enjoy it. After all, I wrote it mostly while working in a 7-Eleven in and it started out as a list of things customers did to piss me off. Then I started writing about things customers could do to piss me off. Then I just started making up crazy stuff near the end. So I uploaded the text file to Kevin’s BBS. He didn’t like it. In fact, he deleted my account on the BBS and he called the police. He took the text file as a personal threat against him. I think it was a few days later that the police called me to ask me about it. They told me to leave Kevin alone and as far as I can remember, I did.

Soon after that we started getting hang up calls at our house. Usually just one a day. Sometimes I would answer and sometimes Colleen. They always hung up. At first we ignored it, but it kept happening every day, so we checked the caller ID and it was a local number. I tried calling it back, but didn’t get an answer. I don’t think our caller ID box displayed the name of the caller, so I called up the phone company and got them to tell me the name belonging to that number. It was Kevin! It’d been a week or two since the BBS thing happened and I wasn’t bothering him, but for some reason he was calling up my house every day.

So this was bizarre. We didn’t know why Kevin would be doing this. It turned out that he was married, so it might have been his wife and not him. He later claimed that he’d never called our house before, so it could have been her too. This was back in PLA’s prime, and I loved bizarre phone-related drama like this, so I was excited to find out that these hang up calls were an attempt to harass me since that gave me a great reason to retaliate. Later that evening, I gave Kevin a call and talked to him. I dialed him after diverting through AT&T, using a stolen credit card number so he wouldn’t get my caller ID. I don’t remember what all we said, but I remember lots of disagreeing happening. He denied the hangup calls and so did his wife. And he actually asked how I could be calling from a local number and not have my number show up on his caller ID display.

Originally I figured he hadn’t even heard of caller ID (it was sort of new at the time) and that’s why they wouldn’t bother blocking their number when they called. But he clearly knew what it was. We theorized that maybe they were hoping to get us to call them back a lot so they could *57 (trace) us and get us in trouble with the police. That’s probably a stupid theory, but who knows what these people were thinking.

I honestly don’t remember what all I did to Kevin and his wife since it all happened 14 years ago. I do remember one afternoon, I was sitting out on the porch and a couple of girls came up the sidewalk and asked if I was Alex. I said yeah and one of them told me she was Kevin’s wife and wanted to know what my problem was. I don’t remember exactly how that conversation went either, but they left peacefully. Whatever I was doing to them caused her to come and visit me in person, though, so that’s saying something about the effectiveness of my harassment.

Another time I was working at Target and Kevin’s wife happened to come into my checkout lane. I didn’t recognize her until she wrote and check and I read the name on the check. I said hi and we chatted for a minute and were friendly to each other. Then after she walked away, I wrote down all the personal information from her check, figuring I could do something horrible with it. I never got around to it though. (I’m not just saying that to protect the guilty, I really didn’t!)

I’m sure I must have been harassing them in some way throughout our stay in Albany, though, because I remember that during the time of our trip from Oregon to Ohio, they flooded my homepage’s guestbook a lot. Also Kevin’s wife called me in Ohio once and yelled at me for something. I’m sure it all ended soon after that, though, because I haven’t thought about either of them at all since we left Ohio. Whatever, details are sketchy.

This brings me up to the reason I’m writing this. This morning on Facebook, my feed tells me that my friend Jessica and Kevin are now Facebook friends. I wonder if it could possibly be the Kevin I once knew. So I clicked on his profile and sure enough it’s him. In fact, I’m surprised to see that he’s still working at 7-Eleven – the one just a couple of blocks from my house that I go to just about every day. Jessica told me that she worked with Kevin and his wife briefly at an Albany event. So I LOL’ed a lot as I told her my story of Kevin.

After looking at the photos on Kevin’s Facebook page, I realized that I’d actually seen him a few times there and he even rang me up once a few months ago. He kept screwing up on the register and apologizing to me, saying he wasn’t used to being on the register these days. I smiled and said it was no problem, that I wasn’t in a hurry. I wonder now if I was wearing a PLA shirt that day. That was my first time ever meeting Kevin, so I doubt he recognized me. I’ll have to say hi to him next time I see him and maybe we can reminesce together.

And here’s where it all comes full circle. Last year Spessa and I had the great idea of turning that old issue of PLA into a video by actually performing the things on the list that pissed off Kevin so much. So we did, and one of the items were done in Kevin’s store. Not by me, but by Mr. Spessa. (I’m only mentioning this so that when Kevin reads this, he’ll be less likely to try and ban me from the premises.) So it’s possible that Kevin actually had to mop up after our shenanigans. Sorry, Kevin

I’m going to pretend that each day Kevin goes to work and sees the new Red Box machine on the sidewalk and it reminds him of his old nemesis RedBoxChiliPepper.

Crazy Guy Across From The Post Office

A few months ago, Spessa and I were driving around and she spotted a crazy sign in this guy’s garden, right across the street from the post office.

We drove around the block and I got out and took a picture of the sign while two guys on the porch eyed me. I sent it to the passive aggressive notes blog, but they never used it. All that month I kept noticing that kids kept drawing on the side of the post office, under the windows, with chalk. The only thing I remember is an anarchy symbol, but there was other random stuff too. They also kept writing WELCOME in chalk on the ground in front of the post office doors. Just kids being silly, right?

So weeks later I’m walking to the post office, past the chalk drawings under the window, and the guy in that house is screaming “FUCK YOU” over and over in my direction. I ignore it and continue into the post office. I’m not sure if he was yelling it at me, because it sounded like he was already yelling when I got out of the car. But weird…

The NEXT day, Spessa and I noticed caution tape all over one of the sets of doors. Then later that day, I’m reading the local police log from my RSS feeds and I see this:

Post office vandalism — Police received a call from the 520 block of Second Avenue S.E. at about 12:45 this morning, saying a man who lives across from the post office had been screaming off and on for the past two hours. A deputy responded and found a man visibly intoxicated and being very loud. Police calmed him down and were about to leave when an officer noticed one of the south side doors to the post office had been shattered by a rock. They also saw “disturbing” messages referring to Fort Hood and 9/11 scrawled on the walls of the building in what looked like chalk. Police talked to a witness and she said she saw the man at the post office then heard a loud crash. The man had fresh cuts on his hands. Trent A. Fox, 38, of Albany was cited for second-degree criminal mischief.

It seems as if this guy has been drawing on the post office with chalk for weeks now! Two or three weeks later, Payton and I are stopping by the post office and there’s a TREE in the middle of the road. Someone had dumped a bunch of potting soil in a pile on one of the lanes and it looked like there was a small tree planted in it. Next to it was a large potted plant. I grabbed a handful of change from my car to give to the Salvation Army bell ringer so I could ask her what was up with the tree. She told me the guy in house over there did it earlier that day and I told her about his other crazy antics. I don’t know why I didn’t think to take a picture of the tree in the road.

The tree incident didn’t make the police log this week, but I can’t wait to see what this guy will do next.

Sirius Part 2

Last night Spessa somehow inspired me to install Sirius in my car. I mounted it in the glove box and wired the power into the radio power so that it comes on automatically when I start the car. So I never even have to open the glove box unless I want to switch stations. (Speaking of glove compartments, has anyone ever actually kept gloves in their glove compartment? Isn’t there an updated name for a glove compartment?) I mounted the antenna stealthily in the dash. It’s cool having it in the car but now I miss having it in my room. I’m going to have to buy a home kit soon, hopefully cheap on Ebay. Spessa is going to give me her Sirius remote that she never uses so I can change stations without leaning into the glove box and swerving off the road. It’s an especially hard maneuver when I’m text messaging and holding a latte at the same time.

Sirius in the car

Today the kids and I went to the pool for about 3.5 hours. They’re only open for 4 hours on Saturday which is stupid. All the pools in Oregon suck like that. But yeah, it was fun. I hung out in the pool for about half of it and read for the other half.

I’m really starting to like Twitter now. Maybe not to update myself so much, but it’s cool to keep tabs on everyone I know. And it actually seemed really useful at Defcon. I couldn’t get Twitter to IM me when new updates came in, so I ended up finding a completely new IM program. It’s called Digsby and supports all the major IM services, email updates, Myspace updates, Facebook updates and Twitter updates. The only thing it doesn’t do is IRC, but I’m hoping they’ll come around with that soon. I’ve been using Pidgin for most of this year, but it looks like I’ll be sticking with Digsby for awhile.

(7:15:52) brad_the_carter: make a twitter account
(7:16:00) murd0c: my boyfriend is trying to get me on that
(7:16:13) brad_the_carter: well now that RBCP is telling you to, you HAVE to!
(7:19:25) murd0c: YEAH
(7:20:04) brad_the_carter: you can tell him he was the influence if you want
(7:25:40) murd0c: FINE
(7:25:42) murd0c: i’m registered
(7:25:45) murd0c: as ‘notmurd0c’
(7:25:48) brad_the_carter: wow!
(7:25:54) brad_the_carter: you’re a pushover
(7:26:35) brad_the_carter: make sure to update it every hour every day

Roadside memorial, pay phones

I tell my kids that the teens pictured in this roadside memorial are buried under the metal doors.

What’s with this roadside memorial anyway? It’s been there for almost as long as I’ve lived in Albany. Don’t these kids have real graves that can be decorated with pinwheels and stuff? It used to be across the street, taking up some of the sidewalk, so I guess it was moved to this newer place to inconvenience less people. But geez, 2.5 years now. How long does a roadside memorial need to stay up?

Biked for a few hours this evening and ended up taking more pay phone pictures. It’s only been a month since I last went on a pay phone picture taking spree and already some of the phones I photographed have disappeared. The Goodwill phone disappeared just a couple weeks after my photo. And last week I noticed the 1 phone at Target was missing. Every pay phone on the community college campus has been removed. These have all been Qwest phones, so it looks like they’re tired of dealing with pay phones.

(This post is dedicated to Sheila and Wenonoa, who fully understand and can both personally relate to my obsession with pay phones.)

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