Geostalking, Windshields, Flash mobs, Karaoke…

I think it was Thursday 2 weeks ago that I decided to help out the people trying to sell their cars on the side of the road by writing catchy slogans on their windshields. They like to park them on a busy highway next to my house with FOR SALE signs on them.


I can only assume my first attempt at helping out worked, because the car was gone about 24 hours later. It might have had something to do with the cops ticketing their cars too since apparently it’s illegal to park your car there. People do it all the time, though, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty more opportunities to try and help out.

I think Thursday might have been the same night that I came up with the brilliant idea of stalking Foursquare users. Foursquare is a service that lets you use your cell phone to “check in” everywhere you go. It annoys your friends on Twitter and Facebook by posting your check in updates. Like “LOOK AT ME EVERYBODY, I JUST ARRIVED AT ROY’S TAVERN!” I tried it out since I’m addicted to social networking sites and my first thought was, “Wow, this is stupid to check into places because the type of people I know are the type of people to call these businesses and have them page me.” It’s happened to me plenty of times before, long before Foursquare existed.

So I started calling up places around the country that people check in to and having the Foursquare users paged so I could say silly things to them. I recorded the calls and they can be heard at My favorites are I’m From The Future and Red Cross Telemarketing. There’s now a board on the PLA Forums dedicated to calling up Foursquare users. Several bloggers have written giant, complainy posts about my calls, one of them vowing to shut down the PLA forever. It’s been a lot of fun so far.

I went to Chasers later to tell Jessica and Anne about all my craziness that night. I still had the window paint in my pocket, so I ended up writing on a few more car windows as we left. The van outside the bar got FOUR SAIL on it.

FRIDAY we went to Geeky Karaoke in Portland again. This time it was me, Jessica and Kelsie. Me and Jessica started drawing on each other and soon the half the tables were drawing all over each other. Here’s the Facebook album. We sang My Own Worst Enemy and Don’t Stop Believin’. Both times we were introduced as Roy Gerbil and The Atlantas. On the drive home we kept stopping and writing on car windows. We wrote random, crazy things and then we wrote FOR SALE on a few along with my phone number, hoping the angry owners would call and yell at me for trying to sell their car. Turns out I can’t remember my phone number when I’m drunk though, so we accidentally put someone else’s number on them.

Saturday the kids and I went biking/geocaching. We went about 5 miles and found 3 or 4 geocaches. I think Sunday we hung around the house all day. Looks like awesome weather tomorrow so we’ll probably do some more of that.

Somewhere in between all this, the kids and I went to see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus at Corvallis’ Darkside movie theater. It was our first time visiting that place. A very cool and bizarre independent theater. And the movie was nuts.

This past weekend, Angela and I went to some weird photography event in Salem. About 60 people showed up and our orders were to walk all over downtown Salem and take as many pictures as possible. We only took a few before quitting and just browsing random stores, geocaching and eating in a downtown bar. Then we went to a film festival at Northern Lights. It was like paying $3.00 each to watch YouTube videos. I’m not complaining, because we had a good time there, but the movies were pretty bad. They were fun to make fun of though.

On Tuesday, Evilgold and Evie visited me. They were passing through Albany on their way to Portland from California and timed it so they could do The Phone Show with me. That was a lot of fun. Apparently they stole my porch light before they left.

Evil and Evie

On Wednesday I met Cecelia and we went to Salem for a flash mob, but we were late and didn’t make it to the mob. Missed it by about 10 minutes. It was a pretty lame flash mob, though, involving about 100 people singing Singing In The Rain. It wasn’t even raining. Salem was more active than I’d ever seen it before – I guess it’s an event they do every week or month. We did a little downtown geocaching, had some food and just walked around a lot. I checked into the bar we went to on Foursquare, just to see if anyone from the PLA would call me. Apparently someone tried, but they we’d already left.

Tonight should be fun. I’m going to 2600 in Portland. Evilgold and Evie will be there. A guy who calls The Phone Show a lot will also be there, since I owe him some buttons and stickers from the game show he won. After 2600, we’re going to attempt to do some Foursquare stalking in person. Surbo and me came up with an idea to turn this into a game, where we drive to a place that a person checks into, find the person and confirm with them that they’re the Foursquare user. Kind of a combination of Foursquare and Geocaching. I’m not sure if people will like being found or if I’ll get punched in the face a lot, but I’m sure it’ll be a great time either way.

Dueling Podcasts

About a month ago I was catching up on some of my regular podcasts, which included Security Justice and PaulDotCom that day. Both shows I listened to that afternoon just happened to mention that they needed theme songs for their shows. And somehow I ended up with the great idea of writing a really bad theme song for each of them. Then the idea got even more hilarious by deciding that the songs should be laced with profanities so that there’s no way they could ever play them on their shows. And then it evolved into the most brilliant idea ever – each song would insult the other. PaulDotCom would say horrible things about Security Justice and vice versa.

The people in each of these podcasts all know each other since they’re both computer security podcasts. In fact, each year all the security podcasts get together at Defcon during the Podcasters Meetup and do a show together, which just happened to be a couple weeks away. I imagined my horrible songs causing enough friction between the members of the podcasts to cause a fistfight to break out during the show. This was going to be the most exciting podcast meetup ever! I ended up writing and recording both songs that same evening. Here they are:

PaulDotCom Podcast Promo

Security Justice Promo

Sadly, nothing terrible happened at the podcaster’s meetup. I even sat a few rows back so that I wouldn’t end up getting hit in the head by a chair and so that I could make a quick escape when Larry pointed at me in the midst of the fight and snarled through his bloodied lip, “You caused all this, RBCP!” You can’t say I didn’t try my very best to create drama, though.

Security Justice ended up playing their promo in Episode 69 of their show, with the cursing bleeped out. And PaulDotCom played their promo in the pre-show, but not on the actual show that goes on the podcast feed. Apparently they have a problem with the word “cocks” and don’t possess any bleeping out skills.

Security Justice and PaulDotCom are two of my favorite hacker-related podcasts, and you should listen to them if you’re into that sort of thing. But first, you should visit my new music page and listen to some of the other music I’ve done lately.

Cat Trek Gym Machines

I made a new post for 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.

Moral Dilemma

A couple months ago, I’m sitting here on the internet next to the big window that looks out onto the street and I notice a young guy walking in strange circles out in the street, directly in front of my house. I stand up to watch as he walks towards my neighbor’s bushes. I find out later that he’s put his bike there. And by his bike, I mean the bike that he attempted to steal from my neighbor’s back deck, but couldn’t because the pedal/chain/something was messed up on it. (I found all this out later in the day.) Then he walks to another neighbor’s front door, the one directly across the street from me. He roots around in the little container on their porch that they throw cigarette butts into. He finds one that isn’t completely depleted and lights it up. Eww.

Then he’s back in the street, wandering around in an odd way. And continues up the street, looking on other porches and eventually disappearing between two of the houses, into the back. So I get dressed and start casually strolling the neighborhood, wondering where he’s went. I spent 30 minutes, walking around and hanging out on my porch, waiting for him to reemerge, but he never did. I was convinced he’d broken into someone’s house, but I guess he just left and I missed him.

A couple weeks ago, he starts coming back almost every day. Instead of stealing bikes and wandering the neighborhood, he walks directly to the neighbor’s house across the street, finds a few cigarette butts, pockets and few, lights one up and walks away. While that’s pretty disgusting, he’s no longer acting high like that first day.

What I really want to do is buy some of those exploding cigarette loads and put them in the butts on my neighbor’s porch. That’d be hilarious to watch him light up and KABLOOM! Maybe I could get a cigarette and leave about an inch of tobacco on it, so it looks like the most appealing one in there so he’s sure to take it. Even if I don’t get to see it blow up as he lights up, it’d still be hilarious to think that it’ll happen to him at some point in the day.

Should I really do this though? He’s just a guy looking for a smoke. Is it wrong to set off explosives in a stranger’s face? Is it legal even? I mean, they’re just a prank item, something I used to occasionally do to friends of mine in school and at work as a teenager. They can’t actually hurt you. It seems kind of cruel do to do a stranger, though. On the other hand, he is stealing from their porch. But he’s just stealing trash. But he did try to steal a bike! Even if that might be purely circumstantial and he was just walking up to a bike that someone else had attempted to steal earlier that morning. Oh, the decisions I have to make…

Flash mobs, Mormons and other things

A few weeks ago while on a hike with the kids and a few others from the hiking group, I met a guy who was involved with an area Geocaching group so I joined it a few days later. Turns out, these people pull occasional flash mobs in Albany and Corvallis with a surprisingly large turnout. On Saturday morning, me, Payton and Spessa’s kids drove to Target to cheer for shoppers coming to the doors, as if they were winning a race. They had a finish line banner for them to break through and there were a few signs that people were holding. I was going to make some posterboard signs, but instead I decided to whip up these buttons to hand out to the winners:

Here’s a picture of the flash mob crowd several minutes before the event started:

This is us, lined up on either sides of the doors, waiting for the next victim:

And here’s a father, running towards the finish line with his son in his hands, thankfully not tripping and falling on the way:

I managed to get a parking spot close to Target so I could point my camera out the window of my car as the event happened. I also tuned my scanner to Target’s frequencies, hoping to hear employees talking about us, but I only heard one thing which I think was related to us and it wasn’t that hilarious. I had a digital recorder with me to record the sound up close.

Even though I told the other guy with the camera that I was videotaping from the back of my car, which I pointed out to him, he decided to stand directly in front of my window for most of the flash mob, rendering my already spotty video even crappier. If I’d known there would be such a large turnout (at least 40 people) for this event, I would have just held my camera with me since I’d probably be unnoticed in the middle of the crowd. I was only expecting maybe a dozen of us to show up. Here’s my video:

Everyone had a really great time with this. Most of the customers entering the store seemed to think it was hilarious. A lot of them ran through the crowd, reveling in the cheers, raising their arms in victory and breaking through our finish line. Some took pictures. Others were too shy to deal with large crowds screaming at them, so they went to the side of us instead.

I was really hoping for some conflict with mall security, Target managers and/or the police. Especially the security guy that works at Target who doubles as their floor sweeper. I would have been thrilled to have been asked to leave by any of those people. But only the Target manager came out near the beginning, asking who was in charge and what we were doing. I told her corporate said it was okay, but she ignored me. After a couple minutes of questioning us, she smiled as she ran through the finish line and back into Target as we all cheered for her. For the rest of the event, quite a few Target employees gathered at the doors to watch us from inside.

Fifteen minutes later, we quit on our own. It’s too bad we couldn’t have continued for another 15 minutes, but I guess the organizers wanted to keep it short to lessen the chance of us getting on everyone’s nerves and/or getting thrown off the premises. It was a great time and I can’t wait for the next one.

11/11/2008 EDIT: A picture of the mob was in yesterday’s newspaper with a short paragraph about the event. This seems counterproductive to a flash mob. Isn’t the point to weird people out without them ever knowing who you are? Here’s the picture, click it to enlarge:

click to enlarge

11/13/2008 EDIT: PabloMac uploaded his video and it has considerably less ass in it.

Later that day, the Spessas and I took the kids to the Wunderland, which is a nickle arcade in Salem. They left this afternoon, and I took Emily and Payton to Springfield with me since I needed to visit Best Buy. While we were there we saw Madagascar at the theater. It’s a movie I didn’t necessarily want to see, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

On the way out of Best Buy, the security alarm went off. I did what I always do in this situation – I yelled to the kids, “RUN!!!” and I bolted out the door. I was hoping for a chase, but it never happens. The only place I’ve ever been chased was at Wal-Mart where the old lady at the door walked after me (running would have been too strenuous on her) saying, “Sir? Sir? Please come back!” (By the way, I wasn’t shoplifting at Best Buy. They just forgot to deactivate my tag since I bought it from the return desk.)

On Friday afternoon I came home and decided to check my mailbox which is out on the sidewalk. I rarely check it since all my mail goes to my PO Box, and it was filled with a huge pile of junk mail as usual. As I was opening the box I spotted 4 young men in suits getting out of their car. Mormons! I had one of those movie moments where I’m frantically trying to get the key into the lock to escape the impending conversation. I wasn’t quick enough, though. As I pulled my junk mail out one of them walks up and cheerfully says, “Hi there!”


“That’s sure a lot of mail you’ve got there!”


“How are you doing today?”

“I really don’t want to talk to you. Bye!”

“Do you know of anyone who might need help from us?” he asked as I turned to leave.

I quickly walk back to my house. As I shut my door I turn to notice that they didn’t see which apartment I went into. A minute later I watch as two of them begin knocking on every door in the complex. The other two, I assume, went into the other neighborhood.

So I did what any other normal person would do. I took off my pants, put on the weirdest pair of boxers I own (red ants all over them) and grabbed my video camera. When they knocked I ran down the stairs, quickly shoved my cat into a closet to keep him from running out the door, flung open the door and screamed, “I am the true lord of the dance! No matter what those idiots at work say!” and then I slammed the door on them. I videotaped it all, of course, and you can click here to see the video.

It’s hard to see their expressions in the YouTube video, so here’s a frame capture from the DV version.

I’ll leave it up to the viewers to decide what emotion the one on the right is feeling. I like to think terror, but it’s probably more like WTF. WTF is an emotion, right? I went upstairs to my open window afterwards and listened to them for several minutes while they giggled about me. I was surprised to hear one of them repeat what I said to them verbatim. I wonder if they visited any of my other neighbors afterwards and asked them about “the weird guy.”

If you’re wondering why I shouted what I did, you should listen to this song, especially around the 30 second mark. Well, I guess that doesn’t explain why really, but at least you know what the reference is from.

Free pipes at Lowes

A few years ago I was standing in a long line at the Alton Lowes, probably buying some home renovation junk. The guy being checked out at the front of the line had a cart full of drainage PVC pipes. Expensive pipes and lots of them. The teenage cashier can’t get one of them to scan, so she picks up her phone and says, “Plumbing, call 203!” or whatever the extension for her register was. I pulled out my cell phone and called Lowes and asked for extension 203 and her phone rings. I was at the back of the line, so I turned around and hoped that the man in front of me wouldn’t hear me talking. She explains her problem and reads the barcode to me. I tell her, “Oh, that particular pipe is free as long as he’s purchasing at least $20 of other pipes of the same diameter. That’s why it won’t scan.” So the guy gets 2 of these pipes free of charge. Too bad I couldn’t do that with my own purchases.

I wonder what would happen if I told that cashier of my hilarious prank on her when it was my turn in line. “Yeah, that was me on my cell phone. His pipes weren’t really free. I sure tricked you a good one!” Would she be shocked or amused? Would I get slapped? Would she call security? Thrown out of the store for life? I guess I’ll never know.

Reminds me of when I was at the same Lowes buying the 4′ molds for my concrete footings for the deck. Or whatever those big cardboard cylinder things are called. I had 3 of them, costing about $8 each. And they were all inside of each other so it looked as if there was just 1 of them in the cart. The cashier scans it (just 1) and the rest of my merchandise and I begin to pay. I wasn’t trying to scam her, that’s just how they were stacked on the shelf and that’s how I put them in my cart. Just then her phone rings and she picks it up. I can hear the voice on the phone telling her that I have more mold tubes inside of the one tube she scanned. She hangs up, explains her mistake to me, and scans another $16 for me to pay. I’m guessing it was security who zoomed in on my tubes. How sneaky!

Makes me wonder what kind of crazy things I could get a cashier to believe if I called her on her register phone.

“This is Steven from security. The man in line has a bucket of joint compound hidden inside his coat. Ask him to open his coat for you!”

“Hey Cindy, your credit card machine isn’t authorizing that card properly for some reason. You need to write down the full card number, the expiration date and the 3 digit code from the back. And just stick the paper you write it on in your pocket and we’ll just get it from you later.”

“It’s employee discount day. You’re supposed to be ringing up ALL purchases at the employee discounted rate.”

Or I guess I could do something like this.

Harry Potter, HHGTTG, Wal-Mart, Hike

I finished up Harry Potter #7 today. I think I started it on Thursday or Friday. It was easily the best book of the series. I thought it would be boring when I started it. I mean really, after 6 books of wizarding crap can the 7th one really be any different? But yeah, it was great and I couldn’t put it down.

I’ve also listened to 3 “seasons” of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy BBC radio show now. I did a lot of driving around this weekend, so I was able to finish up the 3rd one. It’s great stuff as well.

I ended up at a Wal-Mart and picked up a few phone calls for customers when I heard someone paged to pick up a phone line. It was mostly because I’d been itching to test out this telephone recording device of mine, which resembles a wireless phone earpiece that people wore before everyone had bluetooth. I stupidly messed up the recordings of most of the calls I answered, but here’s one I got:

Yesterday I went on a 4 1/2 hour hike in Corvallis.

Gasoline to cost $10 a gallon in US soon?

The New York Sun reports that the price of gasoline in the US will soon be in line with what Europeans pay. Translating this price into dollars and cents at the gas pump, one of our forecasters, the chairman of Houston-based Dune Energy, Alan Gaines, sees gas rising to $7-$8 a gallon. The other, a commodities tracker at Weiss Research in Jupiter, Fla., Sean Brodrick, projects a range of $8 to $10 a gallon.from here

While it sucks that gas costs so much and this is seriously screwing up my recreational travel, I think this is exciting news. Insane gas prices like that sure would give the U.S. a much-needed shakeup. We’ll finally be forced to find alternatives to everything. As much as I love owning a car, I would love to have an excuse to get rid of it. Maybe some of the awesome stuff that I always read on will actually start happening. Maybe middle class people will have to start riding the bus. It’ll be anarchy! The prices are going to suck but I’m positive that good things are going to come out of it.

In more important news…

Sacrificial Toasters

Today I tricked some people into taking their toasters apart. I never thought I would open up a journal entry with that sentence, but it’s true. Ever since we made the video in 2003 that showed us hijacking fast food drive-thru frequencies, people have been asking us how we did it. So after 4 years of being asked, I finally made a video that explains how we did it. The only thing is, I lied. The video tells people they need to take apart their toaster and pull out a crystal from the circuit board. And toasters don’t have crystals in them.

I submitted the video to a few blogs that I subscribe to and two of the picked it up – Gizmodo and Consumerist. These are pretty major sites and they managed to bring in more than 8,000 hits to the video. 82 people have favored the video, putting it at #19 on Youtube’s Most Viewed today and #15 on YouTube’s Top Favorites.

The comments on each of those pages are pretty funny. It took 6 hours on both sites for anyone to finally call B.S. on the video. One guy claims he took apart toasters and curling irons, looking for the crystal. And a guy chatting with me earlier today send me a link to an Ebay auction for a CB Radio, asking if that one would work with the mod. So not only are people going to take apart their toasters, but they’re also going to be buying CB radios. I am the biggest jerk ever! I’ve been giggling uncontrollably all day over all this. I can’t wait for the angry emails to start pouring in.

Sign Hacker

I started up a new web site. It’s called Sign Hacker and it’s all about the wackiness that’s ensued with me and signs. I know probably all of my sign stuff is up on the net already, but half of it is on here and half of it is on So not only will this site eventually archive all of my sign pranks (and other peoples’) but hopefully it’ll inspire me (and others) to do more of it.

The page is and the first official entry is one I’m sure most of the readers here have seen already. Hang in there, though, because eventually you’ll see some sign pranks that you haven’t read about. I’m not sure how often I’ll update the site. It’ll probably end up being like where I’m lazy and update it twice a year. My plan is to try and update it about once per week. We’ll see how that goes. There are links to subscribe via email and RSS. And please excuse the weird and broken links along the side bar. I’m still working on the theme.

Speaking of sign pranks, the McDonalds Sign Prank got Dugg, Stumbled, and then linked to from about a dozen different blogs yesterday. It pushed the page views on up to about 10,000 for the day. Which doesn’t seem like much, but it was enough to cause the site to stop responding periodically. I kept getting MySQL errors when I tried to visit a few times. Today I think it’s been alright, though. I’m surprised that a mere tripling in traffic was enough to do that, though.

Today I drove to Salem today for an eye appointment. It’s my first one in 10 years now and it’ll be the first time I’ve bought new glasses in 10 years. The doctor said my prescription has barely changed since then, which he claims is unusual for such a long time. Maybe I’ll actually wear them all the time instead of just when I’m driving. And I won’t leave them on the floorboard of my car for days at a time either. My vision was so screwed up for the 30 minute drive home. It was dark and rainy out and I still had to wear sunglasses. I couldn’t read any of the signs and I actually missed the first Albany exit.

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