36 hours after my post…

Ptolemy Memphis renewed their domain name and got their site back online. I can’t say for sure that it was a result of their domain’s expiration being mentioned in my blog, but I’d say there’s a real good chance it was.

Welcome back to the Internet guys!

For some reason it doesn’t surprise me that they have a guy named “Trip” on their board.

Had an interesting evening downtown with a fellow blogger. Will write more details when I sober up.

And I hear a lot of people are approaching Mikey and asking, “Where are the Super Bowl pics?” Why are you guys asking him? I took the pics. They’ll be up soon. Soon probably NOT being tomorrow (Sunday), because tomorrow is mimosa day.

The Walgreens rant

I just got back from a trip down the street to Walgreens, and I thought I’d post a list of people I HATE:

  1. People who stand there at the register, flipping through the weekly ad looking for coupons. “I know there’s a coupon for Depends in here somewhere… (to the cashier) can you help me find it? And I think these cans of Ensure are on sale too, let me look… it was on page 7… or was it page 15, or…” Find the coupons and ads BEFORE you get in line. That’s why the rack containing the weekly ads isn’t anywhere near the register. People who do this generally tend to be older than Mick Jagger.
  2. People who pay by writing a check. Which means the cashier has to write down driver’s license number, phone number, astrological sign, favorite breed of dog, etc., etc., holding up the line by a good minute or two. There’s no excuse for writing checks for grocery/drugstore purchases in 2006. Learn to use a debit card. Or better yet, go to an ATM before you come to Walgreens.
  3. Smokers. “Uh… lemme get a box of Marlboro 100’s… (cashier turns around and finds the box)… uh, no, the Lights… (cashier turns around again and gets them)… you got those in a hard pack? … (cashier turns around again to find them, as people in line let out sighs of frustration)… can I get 3 packs of those? … (cashier: that’ll be $8.64) … uh, hold on, I only got 8 dollars, let me get two packs instead.” Few things piss me off more than being held up in line for what seems like an eternity because of someone’s filthy, disgusting habit.
  4. People who stand about 5 feet back from the last person in line, so you can’t tell if they’re in line or not. Do you get in line behind them? Or in front of them, and risk making them mad that you cut in line? And if you play it safe and get in line behind them, what if someone else gets in line in front of them, and now you’re behind two extra people?
  5. People who can’t count change. There should be a law that you have 20 seconds from the time the cashier tells you the total to fish the change out of your pockets/billfold and count it out. If you can’t do it in that amount of time, pay with dollar bills or a credit/debit card. Even worse is when the person is just too dumb to count change properly at all, and they dump all of it on the counter (mostly pennies) and expect the cashier to count it for them.
  6. People who bring an assortment of food and non-food items to the register, then want to pay for their food items with a U.S. government food stamp debit card, and their non-food items with cash. This takes as long as two purchases. Oh, who am I kidding, this takes as long as four purchases. People who do this frequently fall into the “people who can’t count change” category when it’s time to pay for the non-food items. They often have braids or weaves in their hair that look like they cost at least $200 to get done.
  7. People who bring a 99-cent item to the register and pull out a dollar bill, and when the cashier says, “That’ll be $1.07,” they turn around to the person behind them in line and say, “Hey, can you help me out with 7 cent?” If you can’t figure out that a 99-cent item is going to be more than a dollar after tax, you’re too stupid to be allowed out in public.
  8. People who ask, “Y’all don’t sell no lottery tickets here?” If they did, there’d be a big sign that says, BUY LOTTERY TICKETS HERE.
  9. People who stop their cars right on Madison Ave. outside, turn on their flashers, and walk in and shop. Madison Avenue is not your personal parking lot. You’re blocking traffic and the trolley when you do that. People who think this is acceptable behavior should have their cars impounded for a year. There are at least 20 other Walgreens in the city that have parking lots; maybe you should go to one of those instead.

And that’s my list of people I hate. Speaking of Walgreens, I noticed that Willie, the bum who usually hangs out outside and begs for money, was walking with a limp and using a cane today. Wonder what happened to him?

Any other progressives/liberals thought about doing this?

If John McCain runs for President in 2008, I’m considering switching my party affiliation to Republican so I can cross over and vote for him in the primary. (Technically, in Tennessee, you don’t register party affiliation at all. You just say which primary you want to vote in, Democrat or Republican, when you get to the polls.)

That does not mean McCain is my first choice for President, or that I’ll vote for him in the general election if he gets the nomination. What it means is, I would like to have a 2008 general election where the two major parties offer two good candidates to choose from. I may not agree with McCain on all issues, but I respect him as a man of intelligence and integrity, which is something I can’t say about the goofball that currently occupies the White House and his corrupt administration. I would feel safe with John McCain as my president.

I think it could be the start of a new Golden Age of politics, kind of like the 1896-1916 era when BOTH parties were offering progressive candidates.

Any other liberals/progressives/Democrats thought about crossing over in the ’08 primary? Or am I discounting the power of the right-wing/neocon/Jesus-freak arm of the Republican party too much in believing we could make a difference?

Friday update

– I’ve been corresponding with another blogger who is thinking about buying the same model iPod that I have. I’ve been teasing her because she saw a pink leather case for it that she wants. “A pink case? What a horrible thing to do to a poor, unsuspecting iPod!” I e-mailed her.

In her response, she let me know that the pink iPod case would match the new pink tube top that she just bought.

And with that one comment, my respect for pink iPod cases went up about 1,000,000%.

– This same blogger is also a member of Ptolemy Krewe, one of the krewes associated with Carnival Memphis. Ptolemy has their grand coronation ball in a couple of weeks, a formal affair at the University Club where they crown their King and Queen for the year. Now, this is going to generate a lot of excitement. People are going to read about it in the newspaper’s society pages, in RSVP magazine, etc., and they’re going to be thinking, “This sounds like fun, how can I be a part of this?” And many of them, living in the 21st century, will turn to the Internet for answers.

And what they will find is that Ptolemy, in this very important time of year when they will be generating so much interest, forgot to renew its domain name.

From Network Solutons: “ptolemymemphis.com: This domain name expired on 02/03/2006 and is pending renewal or deletion.”

Way to go guys.

Seriously though, I have heard a lot of good things about the group from members and people who have been to the events as invited guests. “You should check it out, Paul,” they told me. “For $300 a year (or whatever the joining fee is, I forget) you get to go out and drink and party all year.” The thing is, though, I do that already, why pay $300?

– The Rapscallions took the show on the road to try trivia night at TJ Mulligan’s last night. We finished just out of the money, pulling into third place with one question left, but then missing the final question. Hmmm… I’ll make an occasional guest appearance at Mulligan’s for trivia, but I can’t see myself doing it on a weekly basis. I definitely won’t be there next Thursday, due to the Dempseys playing at the Flying Saucer.

– Plans for tonight: Try not to get killed in a wreck on the way home. That is, if the predicted 1 to 4 inches of snow and ice falls this afternoon. Having to drive home from work in that is stressful, and there are always people who go “You’re leaving work early? Psssshhhhhht…. Memphis drivers are such wussies, letting a little snow and ice scare them. WHERE I COME FROM we drive in two feet of snow!” And so those people make everyone else feel peer pressured not to leave work early, and they risk life and limb when they do get out and drive. So, to those “where I come from” people I say: STFU. Wait, this really ticks me off, so just the acronym won’t do it. SHUT THE FUCK UP. It’s not a matter of me being able to drive home in the snow and ice. I know I have the driving skills to get home. The problem is, the other Memphis drivers who think it’s completely normal to go 50 mph down Poplar Ave. when there’s ice on the road. And then there’s the drivers who think they’re immune to winter accidents because they have an SUV, and so they tail 3 feet behind you on the I-40 as you’re trying to see through the sleet. And this isn’t Chicago or Minneapolis: we don’t have a fleet of salt trucks and plows to clear the major streets. So if you think I’m a slacker because I leave early, that’s just too damn bad. Work isn’t important enough for me to risk bodily injury or damage to my car.

– Okay, tangent over. Back to plans for tonight. First thing I have to do when I get home is re-sign my lease. If by that time Downtown has turned into a Winter Wonderland, I’ll probably grab my camera and walk around and take some snow pictures for my Memphis Wallpaper site. Otherwise I may join a buddy of mine at Sleep Out’s for Fish Races.

– Crap. The temperature has dropped from 41 to 36 as I’ve typed this. We may be in for it. Guess I better go get some work done so I can get out quick…

Pigeon droppings

It’s always a pleasure to write a blog entry about one of my favorite Downtown subjects: the pigeons.

Last night at the Saucer’s Trivia Bowl, I was talking with a friend who had lived in Chicago. He told me how falcons who live in downtown Chicago catch and eat pigeons. They’ll build nests on 60-story buildings, and then they’ll watch for pigeons flying around below. The falcons will then swoop down on them, grabbing pigeons in mid-air with their talons, heading straight for the ground at dizzying speeds. At the last second, the falcons let go of the pigeons and hit the brakes – bouncing the pigeons off the ground and killing them. I had no idea that’s how they did it. Pretty cool! I mean, unless you’re a pigeon.

Then the falcons take their catch back to their nests. My Chicago friend said he looked out his office window one day and there was a falcon, having a pigeon snack in full view of everyone. Would you like some mashed potatoes and slaw with that, Mr. Falcon?

drunk post: Rapscallions win again, lots of other news

– The Rapscallions cruised to an easy first-place finish tonight at trivia at the Saucer. Questions included: What year did Delta start serving commercial passengers (1929), what state derives 30% of its income from tourism (Nevada), and what political/religious movement is named after Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie (Rastafarianism). After cashing in our stash of bar tabs at my plate party, we’ve since earned two new ones at $25 each. I guess we’ll win 4 or even more than that and then have a plate party without the plate.

– Remember when I wrote about the Soul Party at the Hi-Tone, with vintage 60s soul tunes and videos? Looks like they’re having another one Saturday, February 25. It was a great event last time but I’m only going back if I can find people to go with me. Last time it was packed and I knew almost no one there. If you want to go let me know… paul at paulryburn dot com

– NTN Trivia has arrived at Sleep Out’s, for those of you awaiting the announcement.

– Looks like the Happy Mexican at the corner of Second, St. Martin, and Huling is open. I need to get down there and try it in the next week…

– …

– Remember how I said “lots of” other news? I think I lied. I’m too drunk/tired to type any more. I’m going to go to bed and dream that I am being smothered by Romanian kisses. Good night… Yes, I know I still have Super Bowl pics to post.

iPod update

It’s been a month since I got my iPod, and since I know several readers are considering buying the model I have (30 GB iPod Video) I thought I’d share my experiences.

First of all, even though I’m going to complain about it a little bit, overall I’m still really glad I got it. Despite whatever I write here, if you want an iPod I recommend one.

One cool feature about the iPod is that it’s a hard drive (only the full-sized iPods; nanos and shuffles are not). That means, not only can I use it for playing music, but I can back up files to it, and use it to move files between my desktop PC and laptop that are too large to fit on my 256 MB memory stick.

Another feature is that you can load text files into the iPod’s Notes folder and then read them onscreen. This feature appealed to me because it meant I could find ebooks on the web, save them as text files, and then read them on my iPod. This is really handy because I like to have stuff to read in bed before I go to sleep.

However, the first time I tried to save an ebook as a Note it didn’t work – Notes have a maximum size of 4K. (Why???? Who imposed this stupid limitation when there’s 30 GB of space?) But I found a free program called iNote that will process a large text file into 4K chunks. It worked like a charm, and now I’m currently using my iPod to read Centuries, The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus.

That brings me to the subject of the battery. The iPod can seemingly play music forever and ever without running out of juice, but if you use it to read Notes (having set the backlight to stay on all the time, rather than turning off after 5 or 10 or 20 seconds) it will run down in about an hour. You can charge it back up by connecting it to your computer’s USB port, and it charges fairly quickly – mine went from almost dead to charged all the way up in less than an hour last night.

The iPod comes with iTunes software. I used it to buy a couple of songs, just to try it out and it worked very well. However, I recommend that you try out alternate software as well to get your computer and your iPod talking to each other – see Download.com and iLounge for recommendations. Two reasons for this: One, iTunes is a memory hog – I had it configured to start automatically when I plugged my iPod in, and it took well over a minute and a half for that to happen. Secondly, iTunes only copies one way, from your computer to your iPod. You can’t copy from an iPod to your computer. There are shareware and freeware programs that remedy this.

Another thing that irritates me is iPod’s Shuffle Songs feature. You can shuffle by song or by album (in this case it randomly picks an album and plays all the songs on it), but you can’t shuffle by playlist, which is what I’d really like to do. The thing is, in addition to my music, I load stuff on my iPod that looks like music but isn’t. Some of it may be instruction files for a foreign language I want to learn. Some of it may be files I’ve recorded myself, using my laptop and a microphone, so I can later “passively listen” to stuff I want to learn to get it into my subconscious mind (I wrote about this before). I’d like to exclude that stuff when I shuffle songs. Even if I didn’t have anything but music, I’d still want to be able to shuffle by playlist, though. I mean, when I’m in the mood for songs that rock hard, I don’t want some disco number that Leif Garrett recorded in 1976 popping up. (Yes, I actually have one of those – “I was Made for Dancin'” – it’s not a bad song IF you feel like hearing that type of music). As it stands now, I have to manually load and unload music from my iPod each time I want to listen to something different. I hope Apple corrects this in a future version of the iPod system software. I mean, even Windows Media Player on my laptop can shuffle by playlist.

The iPod’s screen scratches easily, so you need to get a case for it (one that provides access to the console, which disqualifies that crappy little excuse of a case Apple ships with the iPod). I went to Best Buy and got a Podfolio for mine. They have two entire racks of iPod accessories at Best Buy.

I’ve downloaded a few video podcasts and the quality is excellent. Haven’t tried a full-length movie yet. You can also subscribe to episodes of TV shows (I think I saw Family Guy, for example) for a fee, but I don’t see the point of paying when I have a DVR at home.

Most MP3 players in the iPod’s price range come with an FM radio tuner and built in voice recorder. The iPod does not come with either.

My only other complaint is that I now have a cell phone, digital camera, and iPod to carry around. How are the ladies supposed to be able to check out my nice, firm butt when my pockets are bulging with electronic equipment? Ideally I’d like to have one device that handles all of these, plus PDA/mini-laptop features and while we’re at it, GameBoy compatibility would be nice too. (The iPod comes with a few games but they suck – they remind me of games I played on my Atari 2600 in 1983.) I know that such things do exist, but the MP3 players on them don’t have a 30 GB capacity like my iPod. And the camera might have 1 or 1.5 megapixel capability at best, as compared to my digital camera’s 5 megapixels. Two years from now, I think we’ll be there, but not quite yet, so for now my pockets are full.

Once again, despite all the complaining I’m very happy with my iPod Video. I also feel like I have just begun to scratch the surface of what it can do. If I discover any other cool iPod tricks I’ll post them.

Ugggghhhhh.

What was I thinking yesterday? After drinking god-knows-how-many beers at an all-day Super Bowl party that I left at 11:30, I went to Beale Street and stayed out watching FreeWorld until 2:30. I am exhausted. I have pics from the party that I will post sometime this week, but I’m simply too worn out to deal with it now.

For now I’ll just toss out a few kind words:

Chuck and Robin are awesome party hosts.
Mikey is a fantastic cook.
While FreeWorld was on, IQ got on stage and jammed with them for about 20 minutes, and DAMN that guy is talented.

Also heard some interesting gossip at the party: I learned where the outdoor party spot is going to be downtown this summer, and I heard who will be challenging Mayor Herenton in the next election. I need to check with my sources to see if I’m allowed to reveal these tidbits in my blog though.

Next time you find yourself in front of a magazine rack, check out the current issue of Memphis magazine. There’s a review of Caspian, the new Persian restaurant on Brookhaven Circle. Food looks really good – I gotta get out there and try it. The owner is a former student of mine from my U of M computer literacy teaching days.

TRIVIA TEAM: I’ll be there this week. Really. I think I may order Abita Root Beer though. I just can’t handle any more drinking for a while.

That’s all for now. I’m going to bed.

Q for my service industry peeps

Last night I was walking to Peabody Place to get some money out of the ATM, and on the way there I ran into a friend of mine. She was working as a server for a new restaurant downtown, and was outside taking a smoke break. We talked for a few minutes, and as she started to walk back in, another server came out to smoke. “Why didn’t you come get me before going outside?” asked the other server.

“We’re not allowed to smoke together,” said my friend.

That seems like an odd rule. I’ve never worked as a waiter or bartender, but it seems to me that if I were a business owner, particularly in a business with a high turnover like restaurants have, that I would want my employees to socialize (provided their tables are taken care of first). That way, they’d develop relationships at work that they wouldn’t want to lose, and they’d be reluctant to leave and take other jobs.

Just curious, what’s the reasoning behind a rule like this? Anyone know?