This week-ish at MakeLV! (5/25/2017)

The second installment in my attempt at cataloging what’s actually going on at my local hackerspace, Make Lehigh Valley, where I spend so much of my time.  Note the low-light photo of the RGB LED sign on the steps – I had to get a great deal of help from my friend Scott to learn how to take that photo correctly with my DSLR.

This week-ish at MakeLV (5/15-5/25/2017)

A Life In Music

I’ve been around music for as long as I can remember.  My parents always insisted that I be involved at church (which was very good for my character all around) and my first memories of music are being a member of the children’s choir.  We of course sang at every available opportunity, so often that I can hardly remember a single performance – just fleeting images and flashes of moments at practices and costumes and smiles.  Oh, and I can recite the 50 states in alphabetical order – like lightning.  It was a song we did.  My grandmother was also a huge part of my young life and she could sing her ass off.

When I got a little older I took up the saxophone and played in both school and church.  In high school I ended up falling into a $200 drum set and decided to start playing.  Finally.  As a child, I’d already damn near ruined my bed from beating it to death with anything I could find that even remotely resembled a drumstick.  Mostly to Phil Collins (No Jacket Required), which is actually a point of pride.  Even as a child I could distinguish a good drummer from the humdrum.  For a time I was also caretaker of a very special piano and took lessons for some years.

As is the way of the world I went girl crazy from as early as twelve to _____ (future edit).  Any drummer in any band will tell you that he really wants to be the guitar player.  Why?  Well, because after the show they talk to girls while you pack up your drums.  So, eventually, I took that up too.  Oh – and it worked, by the by.  Girls eat that shit up*.

Once upon a time I frequented karaoke at a bar on the south-side with a regular group.  I’d been going regularly for a few months and through some delightfully youthful twist of fate had managed to get friendly with this knockout girl through a friend of mine.  On this particular evening, she was there with me for my birthday.  It was early and the room was empty save a small gathering of my closest friends.  I was on top of the world.  As karaoke got started I decided that I’d finally try singing a song after many months of lurking in the audience.  I sang “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.  Aside from an awkward beginning I think it went pretty well.  When I got back to my seat, I asked this girl “How’d it go?” and she said “It was good – really good, actually”.  That’s it, that was the whole compliment, but I’ll never ever forget it.  It was honest and I could tell.  I’d tell you why, but that’s another story.  You’ll have to trust me.

SO.. now I was singing.  That confidence boost was exactly what I needed, I guess.  Soon enough I learned about my grandfather Robert and heard some ancient cassettes of his singing, then learned about his sons and how well they sing – one of which being my father – and now me.  Life.  Circles.  Existentialism.  Magic.

These days I find myself involved in almost too many musical endeavors to keep track of.  I’ll never forget, though, where it all comes from.  I have a third symphony left in me somewhere.  I can’t wait.

* “Wow, what?  Wait.. a footnote?  Awesome!”  Yeah man I think so too.  Listen, I got into a serious aside earlier while I was writing this and decided that I really needed to get it out of the middle of the post.  Conversely, though, I didn’t think I could let it go undocumented.  ONE time – just ONCE in my whole life – I was packing up my drums after a show and this girl, my age, walked up to me.  She got my attention and explained that her friend, who was too embarrassed to come up, thought I was “hot” and wanted me to come back and “say hello”.  Of course I was seeing someone at the time, which is exactly what I had to tell the friend of the only girl I ever won over at a show, but still – it DOES happen for the drummer sometimes.  One time.  Sometimes.

I really, really wish I was a writer.

As you probably already know, I started my blog in anger over that ridiculousness with the BPA.  After a post or two though I started to get excited.  I always seem to have long and drawn out stories to tell (whether you like it or not) about the abundance of extraordinary things that happen to me every day, so why not document them?  The problem is – I can’t write.

Obviously I can communicate.  I even have a vocabulary that’s a step or two above simpleton.  In my day-to-day at work I encounter people who can barely get by and e-mails that take coffee and man-hours to decipher, and this all makes me happy that maybe – just maybe – I am a step ahead of the everyman.

In re-reading this mess, however, I am immediately reminded that I eventually became pretty disinterested with English class, am a college dropout, and have been ass-deep in a computer ever since.  I swear I have something worthwhile and entertaining to say, but I just can’t write it.  More accurately, I cannot write it without questioning every single comma, “and”, “however”, paragraphing, proper quotations and punctuation, two or 2, spelling and other grammar.  Oh – and my weird pause-hyphen – which I love.  To death.  Like short scentences.  And putting a “c” in “sentences”.

As if things weren’t bad enough, most of my would-be readers are writers and entertainers.  I mean real ones.  They have novels and “novellas” (whatever the hell thatis) and books of poetry and book tours (and book tours) and podcasts and published articles and magazines and blogs with actual content (and blogs and blogs)!  Me?  Well.. I’m not.  Do I take an english class?  How important is this if you’re writing on the Internet in 2012?  Do you know the muffin man?

Regardless of the importance, that last post was awful to re-read now that it’s been a week or two.  I suppose I could get an editor, but that sounds expensive.  If only I knew some writers that owed me..hmm.

Someone go mark this up!

Sixers vs. Cheeseburgers

Despite their 30+ point blowout victory, the Sixers f&$*@(! failed this past Saturday. Granted they dominated the game, gapping somewhere in the second quarter and they never looked back.

Fast forward to the fourth quarter with about 2:30 to go.  It’s 92 to 60-something Sixers.  The announcer comes on and says “If the Sixers score 100 points tonight your ticket stub is good for a free Big Mac tomorrow!”  No I didn’t make that up, and trust me – holy shit.  An otherwise docile crowd let out a deafening roar.  People seriously flipped out.  Things go back and forth as basketball games do, and with less than 30 seconds left it’s 97-60ish Sixers’ ball.

As soon as they inbound the ball, the Sixers immediately go into “run out the clock” mode. Just standing around dribbling, slowly meandering around their own territory.  The crowd is standing and screaming and intensely furious.  Finally Doug Collins (coach) stands up and waves the Sixer down the court.  He obeys.  Seriously. The professional NBA basketball player on the winning team ran up the court with 20-ish seconds left to shoot a three for free cheeseburgers.

Of course, they miss.  No Big Macs.  The clock runs out and the music blares, confetti cannons blast, disco lights ensure… the crowd?  They boo the shit out of the Sixers.  Forget about the 30 point victory, we were three points from free cheeseburgers!  What a bunch of assholes.

Wonder why your kids are fat?  Well.. that has nothing to do with this I guess.  Still, cheeseburgers > basketball says America.

The 2012 North St. Parking Garage

If you haven’t seen or heard, the Bethlehem Parking Authority installed new automated in-lane pay systems at both the Walnut & North garages.  Welcome to the future.

Probably much like you I feel gross after Christmas (and the rest of last year).  I needed to get back to my gym and feel better, so I went on Monday as I had a vacation day.  I’m a member at American Hairlines Body & Soul just next to the garage.  I saw the new parking garage equipment but the gates were up and everything was free as is typical of the BPA around the holidays.  I appreciated it.

It’s January 3rd, so back to the grind!  When I went back today I had to take a ticket and park.  6:37pm was printed on the ticket.  I pay attention because the gym validates parking for an hour so you don’t have to pay.  It’s wonderful.  WAS wonderful, anyway.  On the way out I stopped to get a stamp and the gentleman at the desk just shook his head and said they didn’t do it anymore.  That was a pretty substantial blow right there as the gym suddenly costs $1 more per trip which might as well raise the price $20/mo.  I didn’t ask too many questions despite how sad that was because.. well, let’s face it.  What the hell was he gonna do?

Driving out of the garage I come to the gate and see the new equipment.  There was someone in the booth as always, but also a woman outside standing next to the new automated payment machine.  She was very friendly and said hello, and instructed me to insert my ticket.  It was 7:41pm, exactly one hour and four minutes later.  I had my dollar bill ready.

The machine says $1.50!  Ughh.. another .50 cents for FOUR minutes?  That’s just great, now we bought the BPA a laser crime robot capable of deadly chronological precision.  Remember that amazing feeling of getting to your car four minutes after the meter was due to run out only to find it ticket-less, despite the time expiring and the flashing red thing?  Yeah, forget it.  Gone.  New meters next month and they just beam your car to the impound when your last nickel is done.  Once upon a time I could drive up to the little booth at the North St. garage three or five minutes late with confidence that the happy little man inside, who was always very polite, would never dream of being such a dick as to ask me for another dollar for four minutes.  It didn’t matter what the sign said because that’d be ridiculous and we both knew it.

Of course I immediately reacted in front of this incredibly nice lady.  I asked her if the machine was serious.  She smiled and chose not to respond, which is probably appropriate as my question was pretty odd.  I resigned to my wallet and found I only had one dollar bill, so I asked her if the machine made change.  Of course it does.  So I put in my five and it made change for the $1.50 I owed it.  Just change, mind you.  I looked around for my three bucks but to no avail.  I counted the change.

RUTHERFORD B. HAYES DOLLAR GOLD COINS.  Rutherford B. Hayes dollar gold coins!  Are you serious?!  Does the BPA have a stockpile of these they’re looking to douche upon the citizens of Bethlehem?  Nobody wants these things!  They’re useless!  What if I wanted a soda from the machine at work, or to pay the Red Box thing, or to participate in any sort of monetary exchange with anyone for anything.  You can’t even give these to kids for Christmas next year because they also know they’re not real money.

I reacted again.  Worse this time.  This poor women just stood there smiling and half laughed.  ”This is all really terrible” I said, to which she responded

“Hey I know, I’m out of a job after this”.

Mission accomplished, BPA.  Installed expensive Little John toll-collector robots, eliminated some jobs, found an outlet for the horseshit Rutherford “might as well be chocolate” Hayes coins, and somehow found a way to tarnish your pristine $60 Musikfest ticket image.