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September 29, 2005

The Nelsons

Have you seen this? This family needs to get a life, they are just copying everything we say here.

The Nelson Family

New Headphones

My yellow headphones for my iPod have started sounding scratchy sometimes. I don't know if the ipod's audio jack is getting worn, if the remote is causing the problem, the cell phone in the same pocket is interfering, or some combination. But I thought it might be time to get some new headphones. The best small headphones I ever had were the ones that came with my Sony CD Player that I bought in 1990 or 91 at the same time as Jeb. They kind of go in your ear, but just barely and they had three hinges so they would fold up. I found out later they are called vertical in-ear headphones. When I bought the yellow ones I was looking for something similar but they weren't quite the same (didn't fold). Then I found a review on the Macintosh newsletter, Tidbits, that mentioned Sony MDR-A44L's as being pretty good. So I found those at Amazon for $19. Then I checked buy.com where they were only $16 plus they were giving 10% off that day. Shipping was $6, but on orders over $25 you could get free shipping. I had been thinking about getting one of Elton John's older albums, so I started looking for those to put me over the minimum.

Elton John is one of those musicians whose star shines off an on, but mostly it is on and has been pretty bright for 30 years. I used to listen to his Greatest Hits album all the time, as much as Simon and Garfunkel's. I got his second Greatest Hits album and never thought it was quite as good. But somehow a song like Tiny Dancer didn't appear on either, which was just crazy. The movie Almost Famous brought a new audience to some of those older songs and also introduced me to "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters". Then Jeb wrote about his new Bruce Springsteen tribute CD and referenced his Elton John tribute CD and that got me going to iTunes to see if I should buy some of the missing older music and maybe discover more. I had put a couple of songs in my cart a couple of weeks ago but never checked out.

AllMusic gives 5 stars to 1971's Tumbleweed Connection, 1972's Honky Chateau, and 1975's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboys. 1973's Goodbye Yellowbrick Road got 4.5 stars and it's one of my favorite albums (AllMusic definitely trends towards an artist's earlier and often less commercial work). Yellow Brick Road has some huge hits, but even the little songs can be really great like "All the Girls Love Alice" and "Sweet Painted Lady". Given that and the fact that some of those early albums were concept albums, I started thinking I should just get all 3. At buy.com the albums were about $16 each which I didn't feel like paying even though I would rather have the CD's. At iTunes they were $9.99 each (actually one of those was only $6.99 there). But then I noticed the ones at buy.com were SACD's which I'm not even sure I can play. Looking further down the 10 pages of search results for Elton John I found the regular CD's for $8.99 each. Jackpot! So I bought all three of the five-star albums (my book version of AllMusic gives 4 stars to all of them but Tumbleweed which got 5). When I checked out my shopping cart they were still charging for shipping. Somehow the headphones weren't qualifying for free shipping. So I wound up adding a couple of cables (a mini headphone connector and a RCA to mini) to get over $25 and that got me back to free shipping. I wasn't going to pay $7 to ship some $16 headphones, so I just didn't get those. The yellow ones were okay last time I used them.

But the CD's should be pretty good. Or not. I went on a similar buying spree for Led Zeppelin albums and in retrospect I should have stayed away from Led Zep 3. It's encouraging though. Today I found a list Rolling Stone put together of the Top 500 albums of all time and all three of these albums were on it (at 463, 367, and 158 chronologically), along with Yellow Brick Road (91) and even the Greatest Hits album (135).

September 21, 2005

Road Rage

Sometimes when people tailgate me I will slow down just so they stop, but in general I'm a pretty courteous driver. In this case I made a guy really mad even though I wasn't trying to and he took the most aggressive retaliation of anyone I've ever come across. Once he was in front of me I wished I had gotten his license plate so I could report him and I sped up to catch up with him before realizing I was being pretty stupid. But as traffic got more congested closer to Atlanta, I actually caught up with him and passed him anyway and got his license. But then what do you do with it? I found a website called www.roadragers.com and reported him, but that doesn't really do any good. So I sent a description of his car and his license plate to both the Georgia State Patrol and the Florida Highway Patrol. I doubt they will do anything, but I suggested they send a letter to the guy just to say he had been reported.

I've always thought it would be a good idea to have some kind of traffic posse where the police deputize private citizens to report bad driving. As I envision it you would have to attend a day-long class about rules of the road and rules of the program and then you could report one person a month (maybe more). While no one would receive tickets when they were reported, they would receive a letter describing the infraction and a note would be made to that person's file so that if the police ever pulled the guy over they could see a list of citizen complaints about him and realize he deserves to have the book thrown at him.

Anyway, here's the letter I wrote:

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to make you aware of a road rage type of incident that occurred to me earlier today. I am not pressing charges, but I hope that by making you aware of the incident that such a letter as this will help establish a pattern of aggressive driving by the driver that might weigh on a future decision to decline leniency on the driver or support anyone else who is victimized by this driver.

I was driving northbound on I-75 today at about noon near McDonough, Georgia in the left lane. While I do not typically stay long in that lane, there was a truck in the center lane trying to pass slower traffic in the right lane and I was trying to stay clear of that. During this time a car caught up with me and began tailgating very close even though I was moving at or above the speed limit and with the general flow of traffic (the truck next to me was sometimes ahead and sometimes behind me depending on whether we were going up a hill). Since I did not want to increase my speed any further (I was on cruise control at the time, so I was not playing games with the car behind me), the car passed me on the right while the truck was ahead of me which also prevented me from moving to the center lane to get out of his way.

To teach me a lesson, I suppose, when the van had just passed my front bumper the driver lurched suddenly and deliberately from the center lane in front of me as if to sideswipe me or force me to run into the back of his car. At approximately 70 mph the van nearly clipped my car, missing my bumper by no more than a foot or two. I took evasive action and the car continued at a high rate of speed ahead of me. However I did get the license plate of the car. Florida plates ### ***. I do not know the make, model, or year of the vehicle but it was a dark red minivan.

I hope that there is some resource the state patrol can make use of to record accounts of bad driving, perhaps sending a written notification to the driver to avoid dangerous, highly aggressive driving in the future. Thank you for your attention in this matter.

September 11, 2005


Since I only use 1 bedroom of my house and live very close to MARTA, it seems like my house would be perfect for any hurricane evacugees. At first I thought I would be able to just drive by a shelter and pick up a family, but to qualify for assistance people have to work through the system. So, today, after procrastinating a while, I posted an offer to keep people at my house on the website that the AJC has set up for this. The AJC says they will share the list with relief agencies. We'll see what happens. While I want to help people, I don't want to have just anybody in my house. Here's what I wrote:

"Single male homeowner with 2 indoor dogs has 1 or 2 bedrooms of house to share with a small family, married couple, or two individuals for up to 3 months. On bus line; one mile to MARTA rail. One-story house, but there are a few stairs at every entrance. No smoking, drugs, profanity, or weapons. Would prefer someone placed through a relief agency."

September 9, 2005

TypeKey Comments

With the new blog upgrade, the old password thing doesn't work anymore. Jeb is experimenting with junk filters and not using a password at all. But I set up my blog to use TypeKey which is a free service from the blog makers (Movable Type) to allow people to register and comment on any blog. I kind of like that because it lets people outside the family add comments, but it should stop junk (I guess if someone posts blog spam their TypeKey account is revoked, but if they are just obnoxious then I can put a block on that person).

I don't think there is a way to do both, so if you would like to be able to post comments on my blog you will need to sign up for a free TypeKey account and log on when you comment. Please try it out. It only takes a few minutes to sign up, then you have to respond an e-mail to activate your account. The only problem is you have to use the same name all the time instead of getting to make up a name depending on whose blog you are commenting on (like "Mom" or "Gramalie"), so now I will just be "brted" (my usual internet alias) instead of "UT".

Anyway, the TypeKey thing is working already because a guy made a very good comment to my entry about Mom's new notebook computer.

September 1, 2005

Don't Panic

Yesterday the governor said "Don't panic" about gasoline. Today I needed to fill up the office car. Though there is a credit card that can be used at most gas stations, I always go to the state gas station near the twin towers downtown. They had a sign on the pumps that said that by order of the governor the gas was only for state emergency vehicles. Yeah, don't panic.