The Last Car I Will Ever Own

Pictured above is my new 2016 Nissan Versa, parked across a couple of handicap spaces because that’s just the kind of guy I am.

A few weeks ago, Liana and I spent one hellish Saturday afternoon, looking at cars and dealing with some of the sketchiest car dealership employees ever. We finally left with the Nissan and a new car payment that I don’t know how I’m going to afford, but it’s an awesome car and I love it. It’s very low-end and doesn’t even have power locks or windows, but it’s great to have a reliable car again. One that can go on extensive road trips, just like the good ole days, which I plan to do very soon. And, most importantly, it’s got an Aux In jack. So long to listening to Spotify through a cassette tape adapter.

My 2000 Ford Focus has been a great car for the past 13 years, but its numerous problems and break downs were starting to add up, and it had 211,000 miles on it. I listed it on Craigslist for weeks, one week for $400 and the second week for $300, and nobody ever bought it. But less than 24 hours after painting “FOR SALE” on the back window, it was gone, purchased by a guy who plans to fix it up and use it for work. I let him have it for $280 since the gas tank was empty.

I bought the Focus in 2003, for the sole purpose of taking a cross-country trip from Illinois to South Dakota to hang out with The Spessas, which I did within a month of buying the car. Since then my Focus has taken me all over the country, on road trips by myself and with the kids, with friends and girlfriends, it’s helped aid me in all kinds of wacky pranks and schemes, from Texas to New York to California and a bunch of other fun places, it’s been a great car and has been mostly reliable. I will miss you, 2000 Ford Focus. Since I have the address of the guy I sold it to, I’m tempted to occasionally drive by and look longingly at my old friend. But I totally won’t do that, because that would be creepy. Nope, not me.

Below is a video I made in 2014, demonstrating how easy it is to call oil change places and trick them into handing out my own personal information. Included in the video is every picture I could find of my Focus from my photo album. You’ll see pictures from when I made a laptop mount in my front seat because GPS barely existed yet, you’ll see how I turned the passenger seat into a desk for a few road trips, the Nova emblem that I drilled into the back of the car to confuse other drivers, the weird things we painted on my windows, the 1980’s-era radio I installed after the first time a crackhead stole my nice stereo, and other miscellaneous photos of my old car from the past 13 years.

Why is the Nissan Versa the last car I will ever own? Because the entire world is on the verge of a buttload of changes to transportation and pretty much everything else. Semi-autonomous cars are already here if you can afford them, and fully autonomous cars will be here easily by 2020. Once the cars are working and the government regulations are laid out, things are going to change insanely quick. Elon Musk recently said that full autonomy will be ready within 2 years and the government will be ready for them in 3. And Elon knows what he’s talking about since he plans to be selling 1,000,000 autonomous cars per year by 2020.

I’ve seriously hated being a slave to my car these past couple of decades. Sure I love owning a car, but only because that’s been the only option for me. In the medium sized cities I’ve lived in, public transportation generally sucks. In a few short years, I’m going to be able to call for an autonomous car to pick me up from a cell phone app, to take me wherever I want to go, quickly and cheaply. Owning a car will become pointless and expensive. Even if full autonomy doesn’t happen as fast as I’m sure it will, services like Uber and Lyft and all those car sharing companies are going to start showing up in medium sized towns. No matter how this all goes down, it’s going to end with nobody needing to own a car.

About 4 years ago I wrote about how it sucked that I would never live through another revolution. I got to see the internet happen and I got to see the entire world end up with tiny super computers in their pockets, but I felt like that was it for me. I thought in another 10 years, all we’re going to see is neater cell phones and faster internet. I had no idea this was coming and I’m incredibly excited for it.

Self-driving cars are going to change everything. I know most of you have heard it all by now, but they’re going to save 30,000 or so lives per year because they will rarely crash, they’re going to reduce air pollution, they’ll require less roads and parking spaces and they’ll let blind, disabled, and old people get around as easily as the rest of us. Insurance rates will plummet, cops won’t be able to give you speeding tickets anymore, and car ownership will become a thing of the past. When I finally get rid of my Nissan Versa 10 years from now, there probably won’t be a single incentive to trade it in for something new.

The world is going to be in a lot of trouble soon, and I’m excited for this. Besides self-driving cars stealing the jobs of taxi drivers and truck drivers, they will eventually cripple the auto industry. Imagine all the car dealerships in your town going out of business permanently. This is something I would love to see happen, after having to deal with those car dealership people a couple weeks ago. Sketchy car salesmen across the country will be out of jobs and will have to settle for mugging people in the park. All of the independent used car lots will disappear too. And then most of the service garages, oil change businesses, Auto Zones, and insurance companies. Cops won’t be able to ticket people for speeding anymore, but that’ll be good because everyone is going to lose their jobs.

And that’ll just be the fallout from self-driving cars. Automation is going to blow up in a huge way soon, stealing the jobs of fast food and factory employees, and I’m sure plenty of other people. No, seriously, this is all about to happen. In our lifetimes, within the next 10 to 20 years. They’ve already figured out how to fully automate a fast food restaurant, basically turning a McDonalds into a building-sized vending machine. Pretty much every non-skilled job will be gone permanently. I’m sure we’ll figure out a way to make all this work, but from the looks of where things are going, we’re either headed for the next great depression or we’re headed for an awesome utopia where machines do all the work and we just sit back and play on our fancy new cell phones all day.

These things are going to happen quickly and we’re probably all doomed, but I absolutely love things that upset the status quo. The economy as we know it is incredibly bad for the Earth and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. The only thing I know for sure is that driving won’t be necessary 10 years from now, and I’ll be happy to never touch a steering wheel again.


Okay, here’s what we need – a taxi/bus service that is run by every driver on the road. You leave your house, open up this amazing new taxi service app on your smart phone and you click the “PICK ME UP” button. Minutes later, a stranger in a car arrives and takes you to your destination. Drivers who run this app on their smartphone are alerted when they’re approaching a person who needs a ride so that they can pull over. GPS-equipped smartphones make all this happen, of course.

There’s a rating system, similar to eBay, so you can rate both drivers and passengers with things like “10 STARS, he took me directly to my destination!” or “1 STAR, he drove me into a back alley and molested me!” You’ll be able to set up your account so that you’re only picked up by people who have “x” amount of stars. On a normal day you could stick with 8+ star drivers, but when you’re desperate, you make an exception for any driver available. Same thing with passengers, you can set it up so you’re only alerted to 8+ star passengers so that you don’t get mugged or driven into the middle of a drug deal.

There would be minimal cost to passengers since drivers would already be out on the road, doing whatever it is they do. Maybe drivers could even set their own prices, but ideally this could all be based on some kind of credits system, where you earn credits for picking up passengers and you spend credits for getting rides. That way if you’re both a regular driver and a regular passenger, you might be able to get away with never having to spend any money. For those that only take rides, they could buy credits. Credits could be exchanged with other members of the service, so you could barter credits for goods or services. People would start listing their stuff on Craigslist or eBay with things like, “Dining table for sale. Price: 50 ride credits, or best offer.” Kind of like those existing online bartering services, where you trade stuff/services for stuff/services.

Since this would rely on existing smart phones that everyone already has, there would be no new infrastructure to build. All it would take would be an app on your iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc. And I’m sure we’d work out a system for non-smart phones so that it could all be done via texting or by regular phone calls, like, “Press 1 if your GPS location is ________…”

This could become huge without government approval if an app were made for it for all the major smart phones. By the time government got around to whining that they’re not making any money from it, it would already be such a popular service that they’d have to accommodate the people who use it. Maybe they’d enforce some kind of tax on it, but it’d still be an awesomely cheap way to travel and run errands. Smaller cities would probably love an excuse to ditch their city buses since nobody ever uses them. Enterprising individuals could buy their own vans and make a living from going around and picking people up. Taxi companies would hate all of this and lobby for an end to it, but they would still have a few decades of life left from senior citizens that don’t know how to operate a cell phone.

If something like this existed, I would be both a driver and a rider. I like picking up hitchhikers anyway, and it’d be fun to have random strangers in my car as I drive to the grocery store or up to Salem. And I’d definitely use the service for my regular trips to Portland. That’s a 90 minute drive for me and at current gas prices, it costs me $15 – $20 just to drive to Portland and back. I usually park my car as soon as I get there so I can take the train everywhere. If I could “pay” half of that in credits, that would be awesome. And it would basically be free if I was giving people rides around town all the time. Eventually I would ditch my car if a service like this really took off.

And imagine having the ability to electronically hitch a ride with someone to take you across the country. The app would find people who’ve scheduled a trip to Florida and you could contact them to drop you off in Texas along the way. You wouldn’t have to worry about their car breaking down halfway there, because you’d just use your app to find a ride the rest of the way there from Arizona. You could also ditch that person halfway through the trip because they were annoying or listened to country music. I know people do this already on Craigslist, but this would even better.

In the end, a fairly large chunk of any given city’s population would ditch their cars because the service is so reliable. Even if a tiny percentage of the drivers on the road offered the service from their cars, that would still be a faster way to travel than by bus. Albany’s population is about 50,000 people. What if just 1% of the people offered the service? That’d be 500 rides available throughout the day. Compare that to the half dozen buses we’ve got in Albany, if we even have that many. Even 1/4th of a percent would be huge, compared to current public transportation. And the service could become so popular that we’d end up with a lot more than just 500 cars a day on the road. The government might end up loving the idea so much that they’d offer some kind of incentive for people to utilize the service.

It could go the other way too, though. The government might hate that people suddenly aren’t buying as much gas or paying taxes on their costly car repairs and they’d ban the service. Insurance companies might have issues with people using their cars “commercially.” Taxi companies would surely hate the entire idea and bus companies in big cities would too. But screw all of them! Somebody steal this idea ASAP and make it happen. And when you become rich from the idea, fly to Oregon and buy me a steak dinner.

I’ve posted before about how much I hate being such a slave to my car. Car payments, car repairs, oil changes, GAS, insurance, having to trade in for a new car every 5 – 10 years. That stuff really adds up. I would love having the option to ditch my car forever, and I probably will once my kids are grown up. Ditching your car isn’t an easy thing to do in a medium-sized town like this, though. Maybe by the time I’m ready to do that, someone will steal this idea of mine and we’ll have freelance bus drivers all over the road. Or maybe something like this already exists and I’ve just never heard of it. Hrmmmm, time to go look at my phone’s app store…

Summer 2009

I’ve been busy. It’s been a long time, but I think I spent about a week in Idaho earlier in the summer. I’m sure if I did, we had lots of fun and did incredibly evil things. Oh yeah, I got that tattoo then. The Spessas visited my house for a week too, either before or after that. All these trips I’ve taken have just kind of run together. There was Defcon at Vegas, which I wrote about in the previous entry, then maybe a week where I didn’t do anything. Then Illinois for 2 weeks to visit with my parents and other people. Immediately after that, Spessa visited me in Oregon for a couple of weeks.

Me and the kids took an Amtrak to Portland to catch our plane to Illinois, mostly just because Amtrak is cool. Except when it’s running late which is just about always. They only got us into Portland about 40 minutes late, though. We stayed in a hotel overnight since our flight left at 5am.

I know I’ve probably said this before, but flying is just a huge scam now. It sucks. They charge you for every little thing they can possibly think of now. I had to pay an extra $20 to check just one bag. They don’t even give you the first one for free. Emily wanted a blanket on the plane so we asked for one and they told us we’d have to pay $7 for it. Which I refused, because that’s just the kind of dad I am. They started all this scaminess when gas prices were around $4.00/gallon, but it’s been down below $2.00 plenty of times since then and they’re still doing it. They’ll never stop, now that people are used to it.

I can’t remember everything that happened in Illinois, but there was a day of City Museum for me and the kids. I think we only spent one day at the pool, because the weather got too cold near the end of our visit. We saw District 9. The kids and I walked to BP one night for Slushies and they were out of napkins (Payton needed one) so I asked the clerk for one and she handed me a used, wadded up napkin that was sitting on the counter next to her. Instead of demanding an unused napkin, I just laughed at Payton instead.

I did the Phone Show 3 times from Illinois, but mostly just played music since my microphone didn’t work very good. And I moved to a new server, along with a bunch of my other sites. I’ve been meaning to do that for months now since the old one kept crashing. So far it’s been over a month and no crashes.

While Spessa was here we took a trip to the coast. On the way back, we saw a roadsign flashing something about construction, so we pulled over and Spessa spent about 40 minutes working at the controls to change it. It had a password on it, but she was persistent and managed to figure out what it was by guessing. We couldn’t think of anything brilliant to write on it, so she wrote HACK NAKED, which is the slogan for PaulDotCom. They posted a picture of it on their site and we also posted it on

I was actually wearing a HACK NAKED t-shirt that day, but we didn’t think to snap a picture of me standing in front of the hacked sign. It was so nuts because it was in the middle of the day and it was a very busy road. Spessa was sitting behind the sign, but could still be seen by traffic and she kept getting up to open this giant door on top of the sign to reset the power. For 40 minutes. I hung out in front of my car, playing on Facebook on my phone and hoping to divert attention away from her and onto me.

Me and her also went to some casino last weekend and gambled. I normally hate gambling, but I played $20 on blackjack. I had it up to $30 before losing it all. We saw Extract and Inglorious Basterds. We saw a couple of live shows at local bars, played pool and drank too much. We did 2 Phone Shows together and went to the state fair in Salem. I think that’s it.

It’s been an overwhelmingly busy and fun summer for me and so far I’m really enjoying the complete isolation of this weekend. I’m hoping to barely leave the house and just work on projects that I haven’t had time for in the past couple of months. Last night I put together a commercial for Sign Hacker, which is here. I’ve got two other video projects that I really want to finish up song and I’m working on another song and have ideas for 2 others. I wish I could just be alone for an entire week and get all this done. I really need to clean this house up too.

Defcon 17

defcon 17 badgeOnce again, I flew to Las Vegas this year for Defcon. It went a little like this…

Thursday: Drove to the airport with plenty of time to spare. I expected to have my backpack searched extra because I had about 200 PLA CDs in it, all stacked neatly at the bottom in two rows. On an x-ray machine it probably looked like two cylinders. But he took me over to the bag searching area and open a different part of the bag and swabbed the inside with cotton, then put it in a machine. Either looking for drug or bomb residue, I guess. That’s when I remembered that I used that compartment of my backpack on July 4th to stuff all the trash from our fireworks. He didn’t tell me why he did that, but I wonder if they had something that picked up some gun powder residue. After that he dug in the regular part to see my stacks of CDs. Then let me go.

The plane ride was boring. The guy next to me kept drifting off to sleep and leaning on me. I kept elbowing him awake. Had a layover in San Francisco and that plane was delayed by an hour, but I didn’t mind since it gave me more time to charge up my dying iPhone. The girl next to me on the next plane kept bumping into me, she kicked me once, flipped her hair into my face another time. I ignored her a listened to a podcast the whole time.

I listened to the latest episode of 2600’s Off The Hook and was surprised to hear them play Rob T. Firefly’s latest hit song, called Bell Odyssey, at the end of it. Thirteen years ago I wrote this song in a PLA issue and he decided last week to actually record it, and it’s amazing. Go take a listen to it on or listen to it at the end of Off The Hook for July 29th, 2009.

I-Ball rented a car for the weekend so he was able to pick me up from the airport and take me to the hotel. We walked around for awhile and ended up in the room he was staying in, where there were stations set up all over the room for soldering electronic Ninja Party badges. Both of us soldered a couple of them. I checked my Twitter and noticed that Pinguino was at Defcon. A few minutes later, I noticed that Pinguino just happened to be in the same room as me. So I went over and said hi to her. We hadn’t seen each other in 8 or 9 years. I also finally met Strom Carlson.

Got a message from RijilV and T. that they were at Peppermill, so me, I-ball and RTF walked over there to have some dinner with them. Then we hung out in the Chillout room for awhile and met Labythan (an old school Cal’s Forums guy). That’s about all I can remember from Thursday.

Friday: Woke up early and hung out at the hotel’s food court for a large portion of the morning and afternoon, working. Bumped into Rogueclown and RTF for awhile. Then Paul and Larry from PaulDotCom, who gave me a Hack Naked party pass. Went to the Playboy Club with a bunch of people. I think it was Adam (not completely sure) who sent two of the employees over to me to try and get me to dance and drink with them. Not sure what their angle was, I declined everything. I thought they were trying to lure me into a private room for an expensive dance or something. Apparently Surbo was snapping pictures of us. Beer was free and I drank a lot.

Later we went to a party at the Hard Rock Hotel, which was in a small room and way too full. I ended up sitting in the hall for awhile, resting and texting. Before we left, hevnsnt wanted to sit at the elevators on Floor 5, constantly hit the buttons and cheer for people when the doors opened. There were about 10 to 15 of us doing that for 30 minutes until a hotel guy came up and told us to stop.

Saturday: Hung out by the PaulDotCom table for probably an hour, chatting with them and random people who walked by. I met Rachel and Georgia from GRM n00bs and a girl named Drollee (I’m sure that’s spelled horribly wrong) who was a listener of The Phone Show and had called in and talked to me on the air a week or two before. Then for the next 2 days, I seemed to bump into her nonstop. The PaulDotCom guys were nice enough to let me put about 200 PLA CDs on their table to give away for free.

Drolley & RBCP

Me, Surbo and hevnsnt entered the social engineering contest and I ended up meeting notkevin at that. We expected them to give us an assignment or something, but we were just told to social engineer anything we wanted as long as we didn’t drop any docs. So we got the hotel’s housekeeping frequencies and listened to them dispatch things to rooms. Then we called those rooms to talk to the guests about whatever they needed and tried to make them as unhappy as possible. “You need an extra cot in your room? Sure, that’ll be $100 extra per night and I just charged it to your credit card.” One lady said she was coming down to the front desk to get me fired, so we went down there and stood next to her the whole time and listened.

I-hacked got honorable mention for our entry, which is their nice way of saying we’re huge losers. We got to play a couple of the calls for a crowd of people and it got some laughs. I couldn’t stick around for the closing ceremonies since I needed to catch my plane. But notkevin brought me and I-ball up to his room and gave us some really cool t-shirts. Thanks, notkevin!

There was the Podcaster’s Meetup where a huge panel of podcasters did a live show, which I wasn’t cool enough to be invited onto. I got to meet Stankdawg there, and a few other people whose names I can’t remember. One guy lives in Eugene, just 45 minutes from me, and we talked shit about tr0n for awhile. There were parties afterwards. I talked to Grey Frequency a lot and I finally introduced myself to Jason Scott. Bumped into yomama, thepublic, nekid amy.

Oh yeah, I twittered a lot throughout the weekend which occasionally caused people to show up and say hello. And during the podcaster’s meetup, altalp tried to send a phone up to the room and have me paged for a phone call, but the hotel staff wouldn’t cooperate. So instead she had them deliver a trash can to me. I didn’t notice it until after the meetup was over and the party started, but there was a big, gray trashcan sitting in the middle of the floor for the rest of the night. I explained to several people that it was my trashcan and one guy was nice enough to take a picture of me standing next to my trashcan. I didn’t take many pictures on my own camera and I’m counting on all these other people to send me pictures so hopefully that happens soon. If you have pictures you think I’ll like, my email address is bradcarter at Maybe I can stick some pictures in this entry eventually.

(thanks, Labythan, for this pic!)

Sunday: I met Shane! He’s a guy that I worked with in 1993 in Indiana and I lost touch with until just a few months ago when I noticed a video of him online from Shmoocon. I saw him briefly after the social engineering contest, then briefly in a hall somewhere, but on Sunday we actually got to hang out for awhile and do some catching up. I was able to impress him with my memory of everyone’s names from our old job, asking him if he still kept in touch with anyone. So that was really cool and I guess I’ll be seeing him at various cons from now on.

I refrained from blowing money on any t-shirts this year except for one that I had to have. It was at the EFF table and required a $40 donation. $40 for a t-shirt, but I did it anyway. It’s for a good cause. What really sucked was that they were out of that t-shirt by Sunday, so it has to be mailed to me. I went to lunch at Kadie’s with Stankdawg. I swapped CDs with dualcore. I actually bought his CDs. I told him that I didn’t own any CDs at all and I would just rip them and give them to friends, which he said he was fine with. Damn this physical media!

Went to Kadie’s again with I-Ball to have dinner, then we went to closing ceremonies. Had to leave early since I had a plane to catch. Stopped by the goon room to say goodbye to RijilV. Met notkevin and went to his room to claim our prizes of XXXL t-shirts. (That’s the only size they had left.) Went to the parking garage and I-ball couldn’t find his rental car. We walked down 4 stories looking for it before he finally spotted it. He got me to the airport about an hour before my flight, plenty of time to charge my iPhone so I could listen to podcasts for 2 hours.

I think this is a new feature, or maybe I’m just noticing it for the first time – when I’m listening to podcasts I can hit a “2x” button and it doubles the speed of the shows. Not the pitch at all, just the speed. So I was able to listen to 4 hours of podcasts during my 2 hours of flight. The people on those shows talk too slow anyway. As long as there’s not much music, it sounds fine.

So that was my Defcon. Pictures later. Or you can listen to an audio review of it by me, linear and Rogueclown by going to and listening to the 8/3/2009 episode or clicking here.

One last thing…on the drive home after the airport, I was listening to the HipTrax podcast, which is a music podcast that the Geek Dads do. And I’m in love with this new song called Ode To Alderaan by Glenn Case. It’s a great tune and great lyrics. Listen to it.

Glenn Case – Ode To Alderaan
Found at Ode To Alderaan on

ShmooCon 2009

This past weekend, I went to ShmooCon and it went a little something like this…

Thursday: Drove to Portland, parked my car in a cheap parking lot. Took the Max to downtown and did a lot of wandering around. While passing a pay phone phone, I noticed an odd sign attached to it. It warned of an unnamed man who was suspected of jamming pay phones. Here it is:

pay phone stuffing

I guess the guy is referring to pay phone stuffing. I’ve never heard it called pay phone jamming before. Decades ago, a popular money making scheme was to stuff tissue up into coin slots. People using pay phones would never get their money back because it would land on the tissue instead. Later the thief would come back, pull out the tissue and be showered in free change! Supposedly that worked pretty great from the 50’s to the mid 90’s. I can’t see how it’d be very profitable today though. Maybe the sign is referring to something else. I love the picture of that old man, though. I should call the guy and get the story from him.

I got on the train and headed to the airport by midnight since that’s when the trains stop running. I spent the night in the airport, reading a new book part of the time (No Sanctuary by Richard Laymon) and doing as much sleeping as possible on their uncomfortable seats. Around 3ish, a cop came over and hassled me for a few minutes, but left me alone when I convinced him that I had a flight in a few hours.

Friday: Woke up around 4:30am or so and got checked in, went to my gate and looked for breakfast. I didn’t find anything good, though, so I waited til my layover in Denver where I found some McGriddles at McDonalds. Both of my flights had empty seats between me and the other person, which was nice. Got into DC around 5:00pm, took a subway to the hotel and wandered around for awhile, Twittering in hopes of meeting up with some people. I finally got spotted by vixen and Trevelyn, said our hellos and went in search of Altalp. Met RTF and RogueClown at some point before heading towards Altalp’s room.

Trevelyn, I-ball, our door

A few of us went across the street to eat at Chipotle’s. Then we went to the Podcaster’s Meetup and stood around until the end of the show, then talked to a few people there. Seems like more happened on Friday evening, but I can’t remember. I think it was between 9 and 10 that we all piled into a cab (minus Trevelyn and two of us in the front even though the cab driver insisted that wasn’t allowed) and went to the HacDC party, which was awesome. I met tons of people there and saw a few old acquaintances. Drank a lot (free drinks!) and played i-hacked’s Labyrinth game which was rigged up to a Wii fit board for controlling it. Pretty neat even though I sucked at it. The night came to an end when the fire alarm was pulled and everybody went outside. After about 15 or 20 minutes in the cold, we decided to go back to the hotel. We all got to sleep between 2 and 3.

Saturday: I woke up first, around 9am, which Trevelyn, i-ball and vixen close behind. Altalp continued to sleep while we went to McDonald’s for breakfast. Looking at a map from the Shmoocon program, we headed for what we thought would be a back route to sneak into the con for free. I tried buying a badge in November and their payment system failed so when I retried it was too late. That’s my justification for sneaking in. Turns out it was really easy to do. The hotel is enormous and there were several back ways in by just going up some stairs and sneaking across some empty conference room. (With lots of unguarded computer and sound equipment along the way.) At one point we took a wrong turn and ended up in a very busy employee area (a kitchen I think) where employees were all staring at us as we walked by, but none of them told us to leave. I think I got video of that.

Altalp made a really cool fake badge the night before, out of a piece of thin plastic which she cut into the shape of a badge with a razor and then imitated the markings with my red Sharpie. I made fun of it and her, saying that it would never fool anyone. But I guess I should admit that I was completely wrong and she didn’t get questioned once. A piece of plastic that she found in the lobby gained her free admittance for the entire weekend. Not to mention hilarious admiration from everyone she showed it to.

Altalp's fake badge

I-ball’s trick was pretty good too. He wore an official-looking button up blue shirt and a hat that said SECURITY on the front of it in big letters. I guess he was just walking in the doors, getting by on the assumption that he was someone official. (I think he told me he got an employee discount somewhere because of it too.) The getup looked pretty good, but around noon we were standing around and suddenly there were 3 or 4 Shmoocon staff surrounding us. I didn’t even notice them until one said to I-ball, “Excuse me, do you have a badge?” Being the true friend I am, I immediately walked away as fast as I could so they wouldn’t notice my missing badge too. Minutes later I signaled Trevelyn who was walking by, and we looked out the window and noticed I-ball heading down the escalator. He’d been kicked out. (But only until he snuck back in, in less conspicuous clothing.) We went downstairs to meet him and on the way out heard one of the door checkers talking about the guy wearing a security hat.

Before all that happened, I borrowed Trevelyn’s badge to go to the registration desk and get a wristband for the Saturday night party. I asked if I could have two of them since my friend needed one too. The lady said to me, “Your friend needs to come and get it himself or you need to figure out a way to social engineer me.” A challenge! About 10 minutes later I went back with I-ball’s sunglasses on and my hood up, saying to her in a loud, monotone voice, “Hello! I would like a badge for the party tonight! I’ve never been here before and this is my first time asking you for one!” She smiled and handed me a badge. I kick ass at social engineering!

I got the elevator extensions, but we never got to do anything hilarious with them. I started out by calling Verizon’s assignment office, who checked the hotel’s address to give me all the phone lines working there. Unfortunately they were all special circuits, so there was nothing to give me. So I called the hotel, said I was with Verizon and that I needed their elevator phone extensions. They were happy to help and I can’t remember if they even asked why I needed them. They sent their phone technician to the phone room, where all the numbers were written down. They ended up calling me back 15 minutes later with the numbers. Unfortunately the elevator phones weren’t speakerphones, so we couldn’t just call in and talk to people that got in. That would have been fun there. (If you’d like to try that out, though, here’s a page full of elevator phone numbers.)

We did some exploring in downstairs hallways which was clearly for employees only. But the few employees that passed us didn’t say anything to us. I’m guessing a lot of them didn’t speak English. We took tons of pictures and videos and Altalp scored a nice robe from a laundry room. (Had to find the thing to tie it with in a completely different room on a different floor.)

Tried to go on the roof, but that failed. We found the access door, but it was locked and there was no sign of a way to unlock it. There was a phone nearby which instructed us to call a certain number to have it unlocked. I called later from my cell phone and ended up talking to Loss Prevention about it. I said we simply wanted to go on the roof to dance around all crazy-like, but the grouchy guy on the other end of the phone said that would never happen. Sadly, he was right.

ATM admin screen

The hotel’s ATM was hax0red by someone by using the default password to get it into admin mode and playing around in the menus. There wasn’t much to do with it though. We also kept putting stickers on the ATMs, which warned that smiling into the ATM’s camera was a crime, punishable by something. Hevnsnt and Surbo later discovered that the entire cover of the ATM could be opened up, which they wrote about here. And where you can see a picture of our sticker, available for download from

The Blue Oyster

I made a sign for our door that read CACTUS. Later we noticed that the people down the hall put a sign on their door that said The Blue Oyster. (A awesome, obscure reference.) Altalp retaliated by putting some Post Its on their door which read Blue Oyster Sucks and Cactus Rules! We were hoping to start up a war with whoever was staying inside, but they didn’t play along. Though they did leave our extra signage up. On Sunday I added PostIts reading DOWN WITH BLUE OYSTER! and VIVA LA PLA! but I think they may have checked out by then.

Break glass for candy!

I think this is where our obsession with PostIts began. I don’t know why AltAlp even brought those with her, but those, combined with my Sharpies, kept us entertained for quite awhile. We traveled the halls, putting PostIts on everything we could find. Glass is Fragile was one that we put on a fire extinguisher door. Push for Killer Robots was stuck next to a room’s doorbell. I jumped up and stuck a Low Ceiling sign up on the ceiling and the whole Ye intruders betware, crushing death and grief… shtick on an access hatch on the ceiling. There were tons other others, but I can’t remember all of them. Oh yeah, Break Glass For Candy is one we put on a glass fire extinguisher door. I took pictures and I think there’s a few more in them. I think we did even more PostIts after Saturday’s party.

AltAlp's elevator chair

Oh yeah, the party. Altalp inexplicably drug a chair into our elevator as we were leaving to go to the party, I guess so she wouldn’t have to stand up for the entire 3 floors down. The elevator opened and we all walked out, leaving the giant chair inside. And who would roll up to that elevator to go upstairs but…a guy in a wheelchair. What are the odds of that? I think it was I-ball who suddenly grew a conscience and went back to take the chair out for him.

RTF's PostIt Work
RTF can make PostIts funny without even writing on them.

The party was about a mile away and the weather outside was amazing (50’s or 60’s, I think) so we walked. Had some insanely large slices of pizza on the way there, (a slice was big enough to feed my family for a week) and then went into the party. Unlike last night’s party, this one didn’t rule quite as much. It was overcrowded, the line to get drinks took forever to get through (free drinks though!), and the music was just loud enough to make conversation impossible. Trevelyn was the first to leave, after maybe 30 minutes. Altalp and I lasted maybe 45, before walking home. I-ball followed about 15 minutes after us, who I met when I went back outside to visit CVS.

I think the 4 of us walked around and did some more PostIts, then went down to the lobby to go down some escalators that descended into a completely dark room, figuring there must be something to explore down there. And holy crap, was there a lot to explore! I think we spent close to 2 hours exploring all these basement rooms, and didn’t see a single employee all night. It really made us realize out incredibly huge the hotel was. There were several enormous banquette rooms and a lot of small conference rooms too, lots of storage areas, eating areas, long hallways, and rooms that had no business being open for just anyone to walk into. Each room was full of new laughs for us. We played Frisbee with giant serving trays, Trevelyn danced on tables, we moved some walls around trying to create new rooms, we shut giant automatic doors, we tried to get a waxing machine started so we could drive around on it, and Trevelyn gave a great speech in front of a podium which I videotaped and I’ll put up on YouTube someday this week.


And then there was the network room. Several racks full of internet stuff with cat5 running into everything. Trevelyn made a pretty funny video about taking down Shmoocon’s network, but I should point out here that we put it back how it belonged afterwards. Then off in another room, where we had to duck under a concrete wall to get into, was the phone room!

Trevelyn, I-Ball, Altalp

Two walls, completely covered with giant banks of modular jacks and phone blocks with phone wire running everywhere. There was even a phone in the middle of the room to plug into them all. It’s just a good thing that we’re not the type of people to take advantage of a situation like that. Can you imagine?

One of the phone block walls

The hotel got really weird when we found an elevator down there that went DOWN. And we were already in the basement. We went down another 7 or 8 floors and ended up in what appeared to be freezing, abandoned hallways with more rooms for people to stay in. But then we found a garage that apparently opened up into the street when the giant metal doors were open. The cars in that garage had a layer of dust on them. I’m still a little confused how 7 floors below the earth is once again street level, but I guess the hotel is so huge that this is somehow possible. I wanted to walk around the hotel the next day to find out how, but never got around to it. I think we probably just walked into another dimension at some point, but luckily got back up to the basement level and eventually went back to our room. Those couple of hours exploring the hotel’s basement were awesome though. Made me glad we left the party.

As we found our way back out, we spotted a giant, framed USA Olympics picture filled with signatures. Noticing that there was ample room for more signatures, we used a Sharpie to fill in the extra space.

Signing the Olympic poster

I-ball and Trevelyn fell asleep shortly after that and Altalp and I hung out on our floor’s foyer, watching the drunk people occasionally pass by and making more evil plans for the remainder of the weekend. Skydog happened by and sat down to talk to us for awhile. I met him a few months ago at Defcon and found out that he was the one who had to fix my mess with Phreaknic’s hotel phones a few years ago. He told AltAlp all about it, and his version is so much funnier than mine. Later we made some PacMan art on the floor out of chair cushions, which made people passing by either laugh or give us WTF looks. Didn’t get to sleep until it started getting light out.


Oh yeah, around 2am or so, a message came across Twitter from hevnsnt saying, “I’m going to punch Brad Carter in the face the next time I see him.” Holy crap, what did I do?? This slightly worried me for awhile as I tried to figure out exactly which of our shenanigans had he pieced together enough to find out that I was somehow responsible. It wasn’t until the next day that I found out he was just kidding around. Luckily I didn’t break down and start confessing all the awful things we’d done to him that day.

Sunday: Slept until 10 or so, then got the hotel room packed up and checked out at 12:30. Trevelyn left us around 11am. Put our bags in vixen’s new room (she’s stayed an extra day) and went out to eat breakfast/lunch at a pizza place. Taxied back to the hotel, got our bags and sat in the closing ceremonies for awhile, long enough to see RTF win an award for his barcode design. Went to say goodbye to him and RogueClown, and to get them to sign Altalp’s PLA coffee mug. Me, I-ball and Altalp took the subway to the airport, where we all went our separate ways.

I thought I was wide awake on my flight, but when I started reading my book I kept drifting off, so I finally put it away and fell asleep for a large portion of that flight. Managed to finish up my book on the 2nd flight. Got to my house around 1am and went right to sleep. Bed felt pretty great after 3 days of sleeping on hotel room floors, in airports and on airplanes.

Hacker cons are great. There should be more of them that aren’t across the entire country. Here’s some more pictures on my Flickr page.

Ice Ice Baby

Penny Arcade Expo 2008 Aftermath

The kids and I drove to Idaho and spent a week there. We went to a theme park called Silverwood and Payton rode his first rollercoaster. Emily rode her first rollercoaster that went upsidedown. I rode my first rollercoasters since about 2000 or 2001. I need to do that more often, preferably during times of the year where lines to ride them aren’t as long. Payton said he’ll never ride another one, but I don’t believe him. I got a great picture of him and I looking terrified, but I haven’t scanned it into my photo album yet.

A few days later we went to see a movie. The Rocker. The night before, Mr. Spessa and I collected 20 – 30 moths from their porch light and spent a lot of time getting them all into 2 mason jars. We sat in the back row, right under the projection booth, and set them free. It wasn’t quite as chaotic as we’d hoped, but there were a steady stream of giant moths on the screen throughout the movie. They were blurry moths and I was hoping for crisp, clear, black moths on the screen. I guess the window is just too close to the projector. And the billion candlepower light in the projector shines right through the moths. I’m not saying it sucked, but it wasn’t as epic as I was hoping for.

About 1/4 of the way through the movie, the projectionist opened up the projection booth window and captured the moths that were just sitting on the window. So we got to see a giant hand on the screen for a few seconds, then the blurry moths disappeared. Some new moths appeared on the window later during the movie and moths occasionally flew around in front of the screen. Next time we hope to capture twice the number of moths. And also, capture them right before the movie instead of 24 hours before the movie, so they’re more active.

After a week in Idaho, we drove to Seattle to attend PAX 2008. It’s the first time we’ve ever attended it. The kids really enjoyed just hanging out in the wireless lounge and having hundreds of DS users to chat with and play games with. Had their pictures taken with lots of video game characters, many which we didn’t even recognize. Payton was playing the newest Destroy All Humans game for awhile and suddenly the alien from the game comes up behind him and taps him on the shoulder. That was great.

Payton with the Destroy All Humans alienKids and a Halo guy
Kids with the Beautiful Katamari princeMe and MC Frontalot

I met MC Frontalot and got my picture taken with him. That was awesome. Jonathan Coulton was there too but the line to talk to him was too long for me to want to stand in it. Wil Wheaton was at a booth too, and so was that red haired girl from Dr. Horrible and The Guild. We bought pointless t-shirts and picked up tons of free swag.

I brought PLA Flyers with me, hoping to leave them on a table somewhere for people to take. But I couldn’t find any tables, so I just started handing them out to people as I passed them, saying “Free cactus” to them. (It was the flyer with the free cactus coupon on it.) Then the kids started passing them out to people and Payton was handing them to vendors and characters. He even waited in line for 15 minutes, just to hand MC Frontalot a flyer. The next day we passed the Jonathan Coulton table and I noticed a stack of PLA flyers sitting in the center of the table, right next to his other giveaway stuff. I told Payton and he says, “I know, I gave them to him.” So I guess he left a bunch with him and they just left it on the table for the rest of the weekend.

After a day of going up to video game characters and asking if we can have pictures with them, I said to Payton, “Wouldn’t it be funny to just go up to a normal guy and act like he’s a celebrity and ask to have your picture taken with him?” Less than a minute later, Payton runs up to a random guy and tells him he’s a huge fan and it was great to meet him. I bet it was the most bizarre thing that happened to him that weekend. He was nice enough to let us take a picture:

Payton with some celebrity guy

We also visited Archie Mcphee’s again since the Spessas had never been there. Spessa ended up buying about 50 super balls for us to throw around the expo. We (Mr. Spessa and I) ended up taking them to a balcony on the 4th floor and dropping them all down into the lobby at once, as Spessa stayed below to watch. It was great. They were bouncing everywhere and hitting people. And then people started picking them up and continued to bounce them. We went to the lobby and started throwing them everywhere and surprisingly no convention center staff came over and told us to cut it out. No, we didn’t take pictures of the balls falling so you just have to use your imagination.

We left Seattle Sunday afternoon and arrived back in Albany around 9:30pm.

Summer in Illinois 2008

Once again, the kids and I spent a couple of weeks in Illinois. They went a little something like this…

July 4th: After a nutritious lunch of 7-Eleven hot dogs and Slurpees in front of the store, we took a taxi to the Albany hotel where the airport shuttle takes off from. Hung out in the lobby for about 45 minutes, playing checkers as we waited for the shuttle to arrive. The shuttle trip took about 2 hours and was slightly cheaper than an Amtrak, especially considering we didn’t have to take the Max to the airport after we arrived. Took another shuttle to our hotel and hung out in the pool area for a couple hours. Took the Max to Skidmore Fountain, walked around a bunch for about an hour and then watched the fireworks display. Was lots of fun. Went back home (actually beat the huge crowd to the Max somehow and got on the first one) and to bed by midnight.

July 5th: Up at 5:30am to get ready to leave. Pretty uneventful flights. Watched a movie with Payton on the laptop for about 90 minutes of it. Read my book a lot. (Yet another Mark Twain biography) Hung out in Chicago’s airport for a nearly 2 hours for our layover. Ate at Johnny Rockets in the airport and it was an insane $40 for just 3 of us. Played on the pay phones for awhile. I was having the kids dial random things, like ANI numbers, and I noticed that they didn’t know you’re supposed to wait for the dial tone to start dialing. When I said they had to wait for the dial tone, they didn’t even know what that was. They’re so used to using cell phones. Got into Illinois at 5:15pm.

July 6th: Woke up and looked at my phone – 5:30am. So I tried to fall back asleep for awhile. Then I remembered that yesterday my phone hadn’t switched time zones yet, so I called Alton’s time and temperature number to find out it was actually 7:30am. Still too early, but I got up anyway. The kids and I rode bikes for awhile and stopped at Vanpreter Park. Ate lunch at Steak N Shake with everyone. Went to see Wall-E in Edwardsville, which was great. On the way there, I glanced at Walgreens and noticed that the 254-7111 pay phone was missing! Yet another casualty in the pay phone deaths of 2008. I’ll miss that one most of all. I wonder if the Vanpreter Park pay phones are gone yet. Tonight I went to a concert at Haskel Park. Emily found a huge, unfolded pocket knife in the playground area. 6″ blade, I think. Gotta love Alton…

July 7th: Went to my dentist at noon. After 2.5 years, I still don’t have a dentist in Oregon so I made an appointment with my old Illinois dentist while I was in town. Luckily I didn’t have any cavities since I probably wouldn’t be here long enough to make an appointment to come back. This evening I got to meet John Sever. Yes, the celebrity from the John Sever Fan Club. I was a little star struck, but I tried to play it cool as if I hung out with celebrities all the time. The kids and I went to his parents, ate, swam, caught up, etc. I hadn’t seen his dad in about 20 years and his mom in about 10 years. I traumatized John’s kids by forcing them into the pool against their will and he traumatized mine by hitting Emily in the face with a volleyball and picking up Payton by his ears. Good times…

July 9th: Left at 3:30pm to go to John Sever’s house (without my kids), which is about an 80 minute drive from me. Had tacos for supper there, then went ditch exploring! (You should click here to read about The Ditch.) His wife and kids explored one direction of the ditch with us, then we went back home. After the kids were in bed, we headed to the ditch again and eventually ended up exploring the tunnel side of it. By this time our shoes were soaked. It was approaching dusk and it was pitch black inside. We each had a tiny LED flashlight that put out just enough light to keep us from tripping over anything, but they didn’t give us any light into the distance. Just as we were about to turn around and go back, we saw a hint of light in the distance so we kept going and ended up underneath a manhole cover with open vents on the sides. I turned on my GPS and stuck it outside the vent to find out where we were, which ended up being a couple blocks from his house. John lifted the manhole cover and we climbed out. A car parked on the side of the road with its headlights on seemed to completely ignore us and eventually drove off. John replaced the cover to keep people from falling through and we walked back to his house. John’s account of this whole thing is much more detailed and hilarious. Read it here:

July 10th: Payton and I took a bike ride and ended up at the Icee stand. Patty was working and gave us free Icees and asked if I could come by their house and fix their computers. Said she’d give us free Icees for the rest of the week if I stopped by. So that’s cool, even though I hate fixing computers.

July 11th: Emily and I went for a ride this evening and ended up at Piasa Pantry (it’s a BP now) for some Slushies. Around 8:30ish I went to Mark and Patty’s to fix their wireless router issues. The kids came with me since they wanted to see the kids too. It took about an hour to get everything working. Now we have free Icees for the next week and they gave us some drive-in movie passes for some place in Belleville. I’ve never been to a drive-in movie before. Got to hear all kinds of gossip about my old neighbors.

July 12th: Got up around 9 and Payton and I went to get donuts. Went to Raging Rivers for the day, which ended up being a half day since it started storming and they closed the pool. We were all pretty exhausted anyway though. We were too lazy to hang around and ensure that they were closing so we could get free passes for next week.

July 13th: I’m a little sunburned today. It’s Payton’s birthday. We had a cake, tons of pizza and a pinata. And this evening we went to see Hancock at Eastgate.

July 15th: Got up at 7am and left for the City Museum by 9am. The City Museum was the same as always, which is unusual. Usually there’s always something new there. We stayed until they closed, though, and had fun. Emily ended up with a bunch of free Crusin’ USA games somehow (it just kept giving her free games) and was playing forever and me and Payton tried to convince her to come and do something else with us. Once when she protested, Payton replied, “Puh-lease, this game is so easy we could play it on paper!” I don’t know exactly what that means, but it sounded pretty awesome. He always says the weirdest things.

When we got home, my mom told me that Paige called and would be at a game in Vanpreter Park. So we went there and met up with Paige, Gary, Richard and Shirley. Oh, and Casey. Was nice to catch up with them all.

July 17th: Visited Wood River pool all day. Kids got busted several times for stopping on the waterslide so they would run into each other. I finished reading Fight Club, which was supposed to be my book to read on the plane ride home. Now I have to find something else to read. It was a good book and gave lots more detail than the movie, but I still like the movie better. I’m officially going to Defcon this year – I ordered my tickets today.

July 18th: Met John, Liz and their kids at the zoo today and spent all afternoon there. Went to their house afterwards, moved a couch and a giant TV. We didn’t do anything very destructive or crazy, just had fun with all the kids. (Well, I did redirect a sprinkler into a crowd of old people.) John and Liz, you guys are awesome. I hate myself for not getting together when we all actually lived in the same area.

July 19th: Time to go home. Got to the airport around 11am. I guess I shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to get there because check-in was super quick and so was the security checkpoint. We had nearly 2 hours to kill before our plane left. Our layover in Denver was another 2 full hours. Emily wheelchaired all over Denver airport until some airport guy yelled at her and took her wheelchair away. I kept trying to get her to greet passing wheelchair users with, “Hello, fellow cripple!” but she wouldn’t do it. Got into Portland around 7:30pm and into Albany at 10pm, all of us completely exhausted.

I spiced up the barf bags during one of our flights. The pictures are here:

The PLA Panel at HOPE happened on the 19th too. On our shuttle ride home from the airport, I sent text messages to murd0c and RTF, hoping that I would see them check their cell phones during the presentation on the video. murd0c called me last night and told me that the panel ran about 45 minutes late, so I guess my texting was in vain. He told me the crowd liked my Rickroll. I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but doing a Rick Astley parody was extremely painful for me because of how much I hate that song. I put it up on YouTube, though, so here it is:

Today I’m just recovering from the vacation. I slept in until 8am, which isn’t too bad considering it’s 10am Illinois time. Went to McDonald’s for McGriddles since there isn’t any food or milk in my house. Stopped by the post office and my mailbox at home. On the way to the post office, I passed by my old place and I noticed that my old neighbors have moved out. The ones that Warren lived with. This kind of sucks, because I liked living there and only moved because Warren’s friends kept stealing things from me. I should move back! But on the other hand, HAHA, they finally got kicked out!

I’m not sure what’s in store for the rest of my day, other than I’m hoping to go pick up my cat from the people who are watching him. I wonder if he still remembers me.

I’m too lazy to add accompanying pictures to this entry.

Spring Break 2008

It’s been a fun week. The kids and I drove to Idaho for most of the week, Spokane for most of a day, and then Seattle for two days. Today we did touristy Seattle stuff. Visited the Space Needle, the science fiction museum, and a bunch of shops along the pier. I’ve seen RijilV every day I’ve been here and will see him tomorrow too. I haven’t seen him since he left Alton 4 years ago.

We brought our cat with us for all of this. He did great in the car and with the other animals. The kids have probably spent a total of about 5 or 6 hours in the hotel pool since we’ve been here. And we’ll probably hang out there for another 3 tomorrow before we start driving back to Oregon. It’s been a fun trip and I’m glad I finally got to take the kids to Seattle like I’ve been meaning to do for the past 2 years that I’ve lived in the Northwest. Next on the list…San Francisco.

Here’s a few pictures of this week.

Xbox 360

Got back in town last night around 1am. I’m not crazy about driving at night, but the drive was good. Lots of tumbleweed flying around in front of me, making me even more paranoid of deer. Listened to lots of Skeptoid and Blackalicious again. Also listened to about 30 minutes of a church sermon while flipping through stations. Those are hilarious.

Had an Xbox 360 waiting for me in the mail. I bought it broken from Ebay a couple weeks ago. Turns out the only thing broken on it was the power supply. Other than that it works perfectly! Score! It cost about $100, which is right around what I expect to get for our old Xbox. So free Xbox 360! Aside from having to buy a couple controllers, that is. The broken one didn’t come with a controller. Some guy won our old Xbox on Ebay a couple weeks ago but never paid for it. He did the same thing to 5 other people who were selling Xboxes. What a jerk. His rating is now -3. I haven’t rated him yet. I should give him a positive rating, just for the hell of it.

Tonight we got pizza from Little Caesar’s and went to Blockbuster to rent some Xbox 360 games. Emily got Kameo, Payton Bioshock, and I got Rayman. Holy crap, Rayman is funny. We’ve been passing the controller around, taking turns playing rounds. I’m not really into gaming myself, but I wanted the 360 because the kids love the Halo games so much and the new Halo comes out this month. But Rayman is great. This is the first I’ve ever seen it, aside from that bizarre clip on Altalp’s avatar on the PLA Forums. I think our entire weekend is going to consist of playing with the Xbox 360.

Renting games is expensive! $6.99 each? Damn! I’ve been looking on Ebay and it seems that I can buy the games for not much more than that. We get them for a whole week, but it’s still pricey. I don’t think I’ll be doing anymore renting. Speaking of video stores – we went to Blockbuster because the one we usually go to went out of business. It’s the one that I used to wander around in while Little Caesar’s was cooking my pizzas, snapping pictures of all the new releases that I intended to download once I got home. I think it’s been about a year since I’ve rented from anywhere. I think I should feel guilty about them going out of business since I quit renting in favor of downloading.

Gaming aside, the 360 is about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s media capabilities are really impressive. I bought 3 months of Xbox Live from Blockbuster and it appears we can download movies and TV shows from the net. Plus wallpapers, themes, and all that junk. Plus it can stream all the media from my other computers on the network. I’m not sure if this includes Divx video, but that’ll sure be a bonus if it does. So far only one directory of my photo album is showing up on the 360, but I think it’s slowly adding the rest. It’ll be cool once it’s all done. I had no idea the Xbox 360 was this cool! I HEART MICROSOFT! (If anyone wants to school me on cool things the Xbox 360 can do, feel free to in the comments!)

A few days ago I found my new favorite blog. It’s called Behind The Counter and it’s about a guy that works at the Wal-Mart return desk and all the craziness he has to deal with from people. He’s got some great stories and his writing style is hilarious. So far I’ve read almost all of his 2007 entries. They go all the way back to 2003 and I plan to read all of them. So everyone should read that. (I know I posted this previously, but that was in a private entry and I want more people to discover the awesomeness that this blog provides.)

Week Review – San Francisco

So Tuesday I drove to San Francisco, which took about 8 or 9 hours. Jammie occasionally IMed me how many miles she had left to go from Los Angeles and it almost always managed to have the same numbers of miles to go that I did. Once she arrived, we took a taxi to see the fireworks.

Looking at a map, we decided a 25 block walk back to our hotel would be nice. We forgot that San Francisco is nothing but really steep hills. We quickly found out that 25 blocks would take all night so we called a cab. Taking a cab in San Francisco is like riding a roller coaster. Which I sort of enjoyed and Jammie didn’t.

The next morning we woke up early, took back Jammie’s rental car and then picked up CountyKid. Did random stuff all over San Francisco for the rest of the day. Dropped off my car at the hotel, took a cab to China town, walked to a pier. I don’t even remember where all we went. Here’s a few pictures from when we ended up in the Crazy Caps store:

Countykid brought along about 100 fliers offering Free Cactus and explaining so we started handing those out in all the tourist areas. Managed to get rid of all of them while making lots of tourists confused.

Eventually ended up back in our hotel room. While we were in Chinatown we bought 6 boxes of Pops. You know, those little white things that pop when you throw them on the ground. It was 100% Jammie’s idea to buy these just so we could throw them at people on the sidewalk from our 8th story hotel room window. She likes to pretend she’s innocent and never does anything wrong or illegal, but then she instigates stuff like this. Nate and I had lots of fun throwing Pops at the people below. We finally quit when too many people were looking up and noticing us.

As CK & I were waiting for Jammie so we could leave, we were listening to the hotel frequencies on my scanner. We heard a voice say, “We need towels sent to room #612.” I immediately called the hotel from my cell phone and asked for room 612. I told the man who answered that due to his reputation, we’d be charging him $29 per towel. He was very upset about this and asked why and I told him he KNEW why. It escalated and I finally told him I had to go because I had customers at the counter, then I hung up on him.

Soon after that we walked down 2 flights of stairs to the 6th floor so we could pass by his room and see if there was any action/fist fights. There wasn’t but we passed by the man in the hall. I said hello to him to confirm his voice and then Jammie dawdled behind to see if he went into room 612.

Dropped CK off at a bus stop on Market Street and then drove to a place called Asia SF to meet LogicBox. A friend recommended Asia SF to us, which is some kind of transvestite bar/restaurant with lip syncing shows. We spent a few hours there, catching up with LogicBox before driving him home. I hadn’t seen LogicBox since about 2000 and Jammie had never met him before. It’s always bizarre that Jammie knows ALL of my online friends, usually better than I do. Yet Jammie and I have rarely spoke to each other these past 10 years. Anyway, was great to see LogicBox again. Here’s a picture of us, along with one of the dancers looking like a mannequin.

Thursday we went to The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, CA. It’s only of those places that claims to be built on top of a mysterious force that seems to bend time and space itself. Balls roll uphill, people lean in odd directions. It has nothing to do with the fact that the house is purposely built out of proportion and completely slants about 20 degrees. It was a fun place, though. Lots of neat optical tricks.

Next we went to a place that LogicBox recommended – The Winchester Mystery House. The tour lasted for an hour and was really interesting. This crazy old lady spent 38 years constantly adding rooms to her house to fool spirits. Must have been some really retarded spirits. Here is the story of the Winchester Mystery House. It’ll be the strangest story you read all day.

Next we crossed San Francisco for the last time, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and then visited the redwoods. Only stayed there for about 20 minutes, then attempted to find the interstate only to get lost in some very curvey mountains. Eventually found the interstate, drove for awhile and then found a Motel 6 for the night. Drove straight through the next morning and made it to my house around 3:30pm.

Yesterday I set up a photo album program on my website. It contains all of our San Francisco pictures. I’m probably going to start dumping all of my photos into it.

Yesterday we attempted to go blueberry picking in Corvallis. It’s the 3rd time we’ve tried this year and they’re always closed for some reason. So it’s Saturday at 4pm and they must be open, right? Nope. The guy told us to come back on Monday. As we drove away, I rolled down my window and grabbed a handful of blueberrys. Then we went to another place and picked tons of raspberries. And Jammie was able to at least BUY some blueberries at that place.

Last Monday I put out a new Big Beef Bueno. Go listen!

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