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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Memories of the Commute


I used to ride the commuter rail to work every morning with a friend of mine. He was kind enough to pick me up in the mornings, and we'd head in together, over a 40 minute ride, one way.

When you share a ride with so many of the same folks day after day, you start to realize how powerful force of habit really is. out of the hundreds of people who ride the train, it's generally the same folks on the same cars.

In the middle of some of the cars, there were tables, one on either side. We always did our best to grab one, and being that we got on the 3rd stop on the way in, and the first stop on the way out, we usually succeeded.

The mornings were tough sometimes though, there's a High School along the route, and some of the well to do little bastards get their moms and dads to buy them passes, and the ones who got on before us would usurp the tables, play their shit music through their ipod headphones or ear buds or whatever the F they're called these days and do freakin homework. Worse was when they didn't have any homework, they would start throwing little bits or trash around at each other.

I really just wanted to slap the zits off them with their books.

But I digress.

There are few things I miss about the commute, not the least of which is the fact that I almost never see that friend of mine anymore... But this isn't a whiny sentimental blog, (today) we have fun here. As I'm sure you're aware, I like to goof around... This post is about that.

I used to really hate it (still would I'd imagine, if I had to deal with it on a daily basis again) when people would gawk at me. It didn't happen often, but you know how sometimes you'll lose yourself in thought, and not realize that you're staring at someone or something? It happens to us all, but it's only okay when it happens to me. I hate when other people do it, and they're looking at me but don't realize it. Which brings me to the first thing I miss about my commute...

1 - Made You Look!

One time there was a person across the aisle from me, sitting on the opposite side of the table. I don't know if I had something on my forehead or what, but this person kept looking over at me. Perhaps I looked familiar. Still, I wasn't in the mood.

I decided to stare back, but not at him. I looked out the window right next to him during a moment when he wasn't looking. When he eventually did look back over at me, thinking I was looking at him. Then I snapped my gaze at him, looking him in the eye. He realized that I hadn't been looking at him to begin with, and that I'd just caught him looking at me. Hah! I won!

But now in his head, he was busted, and he didn't like it. Now he was looking everywhere. Next to me, next to him, behind me, etc, as if he'd only been looking at me because it was on his way to look at something else. He even shifted his sitting position, and squinted his eyes as if to look like he was thinking about something, and not really looking at anything at all.

I causally looked back over to my other side, and looked out the window, and let the chump relax. A few minutes later, I'd look out his window again, and again he'd look over, and again, I'd bust him. ...and again, he'd fidget, this time worse than before, because not only had I just bagged him twice, but now he's mad at himself for letting it happen again.

Most of the time, twice is enough for people to consciously avoid looking in your direction, regardless of where you're looking. This is even more amusing, because they're completely BUSY trying to NOT LOOK busy. Talk about an uncomfortable ride for them.

That's what you get for looking at me you ass. Who do you think you are?! Heh.

2 - The Phone Talker.

Yeah, we all know "that guy". On the subway, since there are just MORE people, people talk on the damned phones all the time. But the commuter rail is a different sort of group. Most of them are business folk, heading to their desk jobs or what have you.

Every single one of them has a frickin cell phone. Most of the time, particularly in the morning, it's quite. People haven't started the day yet and there's not much business going on just yet. But there's always that one person who likes to start earlier than most, and they're always louder than most.

This bothers me for two main reasons... One, because we are at the hight of our technology. There are microphones in these cell phones that will pick up every god damned noise you make. There are times when I'm talking to someone that I think I hear their sinuses draining. You do not need to yell into the god damned phone. The other reason is that not only do they not NEED to yell, but even if they thought they did, you'd think they'd realize that they are disturbing everyone around them, yet, they continue anyway, so thus they must not CARE.

There was a woman on the phone several rows back talking to someone loudly about nothing in particular, one day. I was irritable, cause I was frequently that way when I had that particular job, and it was the end of the day, the train was hot and packed, etc... She babbled on about nothing, and I got tired of it.

I am not the kind to pick a fight with someone though, even if they're being ridiculous. It was either I do something to amuse myself, or I'd blow my stack... I started saying out loud, what I imagined might have been the other side of the conversation. She'd say something into the phone, and I'd reply back into the air, plenty loud enough for most of the train to hear me.

My companions around the table were all trying to not be seen stiphling laughs, which amused me, so I continued. The more I said, the harder it was for them to contain. The call ended before too long, all the while the person was completely oblivious to the world around her. Which was good, cause as I started to look around, the world around her was about a dozen other folks trying not to laugh as well.

3 - The Routine

People tend to fall into a routine, which is actually how I prefer things. I don't like when things change, particularly when there's really no good reason for them to change. I like things to get comfortable, and stay that way.

Every morning my good friend would roll up to the house, and I'd come out, climb into the car, and we'd head off to the train station. Most of the time, we'd stop and hit the donut shop, grab a coffee and a muffin.

I remember realizing, as we pulled into the train station parking lot where we'd sit for ten minutes or so and listen to WZLX, that we were definitely settled into the routine. I thought about how we'd drudge into the train, contend with the squeeky-voiced adolents for table space. Then we'd exit the train, and half to shamble down the platform at a not-quite full stride, because the pace was always set by the slowest people in the group, and somehow they always ended up in front. Nobody looked around. If you looked around, you'd see a couple hundred people lumbering along, staring at the ground or the back of the person in front of them. Very monotonous. I would always hum "Another Brick in the Wall" to myself, and imagine the video of the faceless people marching along to jump off the end of the line into the meat grinder. The music was the perfect beat for the walk too.

Sitting there, that particular day, I thought to myself that I should change something... But my character is such that I really didn't WANT to change anything, cause anything worth changing would likely be a real pain in the ass. So I thought of the most incosequential things over which I had control. There wasn't much, just the things in my hands. One was a coffee, which I really wanted to drink. The other was the waxy paper bag in which they'd given me my muffin, that normally would be landing in the trash barrel just outside the car.

Those days were over.

But what to do with, and who would care besides me? As if to underscore how deeply emersed in routine the world was, I decided to do something not exactly nice, but in the grand scheme of things, pretty innocuous. The train would come, and the two of us would fling the doors open. He'd grab his back out of the back seat, I'd grab mine out of the trunk. (It was one of those 2-1/2 door Saturn coups, so he had a half door behind him, so he'd throw his bag in there. Was just easier for me to toss mine in the trunk as I got in.) This day, as I grabbed my bag, I tossed my little waxy paper bag, all crumpled into a ball, into the trunk, and grinned slightly to myself.

This went on for MONTHS.

I don't remember how or why he ended up going into the trunk, but I got a call shortly thereafter.

The jig was up. My several-months-long practical joke was over. What to do now?

I am generally not one to tell the same joke twice, so trash in the trunk was out of the question.

That next morning as the train approached, we flung open our doors, and in one fluid motion, (fully intending to get caught, by the way...) as I sat forward in my seat to lean out the door, I reached out with my left hand, and opened the glove box. I'd flip the rolled up bag into the glove box, and as I was standing, I'd push it closed with my left knee.

This was done between the moment, he turned his head to get out his side, and when he'd open the back 1/2 door to get his bag.

I started adding a step, as the train approached, of opening the glove box as we got out of the car, and tossing my waxy paper bag ball into there, before my buddy turned back around to grab his bag from the seat behind him.

Again, I don't recall what he went into the glove box for, probably registration or something like that. Regardless though, this had gone on for months as well. I was kind of glad when he finally found them, cause his glove box was running out of room.

There are other things I remember but I think that's probably enough for now.

Do you have a commute like I did? If you take public transportation, have you ever looked around at your fellow commuters and wondered why you're the only one looking around?

Friday, June 22, 2012

George R. R. Martin - Write Like the Wind!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

10 albums #6 Taylor Swift - Speak Now

So I'm going to catch some flack for this one, I'm sure. Bring it on, I don't care.

I had to kind of laugh at myself when I saw during an episode of True Blood where one dude held up this album and said to his friend "...this yours??" and the friend was all "No!"

And now I ought to catch some flack for watching True Blood too.

Anyway, a couple years ago, I realized how quickly my first daughter was growing, and I told her to stop. She looked at me sadly and said "I don't know how!" Since then, it's been kind of a running joke between her an I. I'll tell her to stop growing. She used to say "I'll try" ...Now she just says no. This song always reminds me of her.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

10 Albums, 2 Thru 5

So I'm just a bit behind here. Like, a week.

For those of you just tuning in, I'm participating in a 10 albums I'd take to a desert island challenge, hosted over on www.joinsomething.net which I'm co-running with a buddy of mine. It's still coming together, so don't judge it yet! 

So here, I'll post 2, 3, 4, and 5.

2 - Pink Floyd, album: A Momentary Lapse of Reason

On the turning Away


Probably one of the easiest songs to play on the guitar. Just an overall excellent song.

3 - Aerosmith - O Yeah

This was tough, cause I like almost every one of their songs... Except "Taste of India". What a terrible song.

Anyway, I'm going to go with an oldie

Seasons of Wither



4 - U2 - Rattle and Hum

Van Diemen's Land

I'm noticing a trend here, all of these songs are kinda slow. Guess I've just been a mello kinda mood lately. Perhaps the next challenge will be specifically about high energy stuff... Might be a short list...



5 - Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping

This was the first southern rock album I'd ever bought, and it really cemented itself in my memory. There are a lot of great tracks on this album, so I'm going to pick my two favorites from it.

5a. The Balad of Curtis Lowe



5b I Need You



I love the guitar solos in this song.

Well, that should do it for catching up... I'll be back on Monday. I should be able to keep up from this point... Was a heck of a week!

Monday, June 11, 2012

10 Albums - 1 - Live - Top from Throwing Copper

It could have simply been just that I was really into this band back in the 90s, when music was awesome, but for whatever reason, this song gets stuck in my head for weeks when I hear it...


Friday, June 8, 2012

Blog Challenge #10albums I'd Take With Me to a Desert Island

Oy, almost missed the first day of my OWN freakin challenge!

I did a post like this some time ago, but it was 15 albums... And it was difficult. Now I'm only limited to 10?! SHEESH!

Well anyway, the purpose of this challenge, aside from having a good time, of course... was to test out the "Event" module at JoinSomething.net. The point of that site is so that people can coordinate and sign up for events and such. It's still kinda in Beta, so there are many kinks to work out. Testing is important.

The Challenge. This is a list of 10 albums I'd take with me to a desert island. Every business day for the next two weeks I will pick my favorite song off of the particular album that corresponds to that day, and post a video of it, and explain why I like it so much. Thus, Monday will be a song from album 1, Tuesday a song from album 2, etc...

Onto the list:
  1. Live - Throwing Copper
  2. Pink Floyd - A Momentary Lapse of Reason
  3. Aerosmith - Greatest Hits (There's gotta be an anthology somewhere that has ALL the greatest hits right?!? ...is that cheating?) OO I Found One! - O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits
  4. U2 - Rattle and Hum
  5. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping
  6. Taylor Swift - Speak Now (Shut it, she's talented.)
  7. Pearl Jam - Ten
  8. Alice In Chains - Dirt
  9. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
  10. Queen - A Kind of Magic
Being limited to 10 really makes it difficult for me to get all the genres that I like covered. I really would miss Classical Music on this Island, but you know, it doesn't say anywhere in the challenge rules that you could never return from said island. I'd spend some time out there, rocking out and then come back. So. That's good.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blog Challenge - 10 Albums I'd take...

Heya folks!

I am hosting a blog challenge that starts this Friday. It's a short challenge, and really is just a vehicle for us to put a polish on our "joinsomething.net" page. This is the first challenge posted over there, and I would REALLY like it if you would go and sign up, even if you don't participate in the challenge! :D

The challenge is "Ten Albums I'd Take to a Desert Island", and it goes like this:

  1. Friday: Post the list of the 10 albums. Don't post why, don't post what's your favorite song... just the list. 
  2. DO NOT POST ON THE WEEKEND!
  3. Monday: pick a song from the first album on that list, see if you can find it on YouTube and post the video. Then explain why you picked that song. Your reason can be "Cause I just like it" if you like, or feel free to go into detail. 
  4. That's it. 
Now, as with any blog challenge, the idea is to get folks to participate, so I encourage you to... But my underlying motivation here is to make sure the site (http://www.JoinSomething.net) works, and for us to get all the nuts and bolts tightened down over there. 

Please go to here: http://www.joinsomething.net/event/blog-challenge-ten-albums-id-take-desert-island and sign up! You'll have to "Register" for an account, or you can click "Log in with Facebook". If you have a Facebook account, you'll get right in. (same for twitter!).

Once you sign up, your name and your site should show up in a list on that events page. This will give us all the ability to visit each page that's signed up. A link list of all participants. 

As always, all feedback is encouraged and appreciated either here, at the site, or in my email. 

Thanks!

UPDATE! 6-2-2012 - 3:58pm
Ok, problem fixed. Please go sign up!
http://joinsomething.net/event/blog-challenge-ten-albums-id-take-desert-island

UPDATE! 6-4-2012 - 1:30pm
Seems we're having troubles with the module for event registration. Please give me a little time... :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

www.JoinSomething

A year ago, (and a couple months) I joined the A to Z challenge, and realized the potential traffic something like that could create. Many of the folks who stick around here are folks I met via A to Z.

I'd found out about the A to Z by chance, and realized that there's really no place to go to find out about things like blog challenges and / or blog hops or blog rings, or ... basically blogosphere events or groups.

So I (and my buddy) created one.

If you're into events or challenges, please go to http://www.JoinSomething.net and check us out. You can created an account, or even log in with your FaceBook account, and "register" events.

The site isn't exactly completed yet, and we've agreed that it's always going to be a work in progress, so new and better things will always be coming down the pipeline. We're always interested in input.

Please go check it out, read the about tab, frequently asked questions, post in the forums if you'd like.

I'd consider it a personal favor. :D