Florida

What’s Stuck In My Head – 11 January

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, and this series, in particular, I’m sure you’ve noticed a penchant for British music. With an emphasis on the first “British Invasion” as the lead. Well, that’s not surprising, as that was the time frame I was forming my musical tastes. Not that I didn’t listen to American Rock N’ Roll. I listened to The Monkees, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Everly Brothers, The Righteous Brothers, even Sonny & Cher as a kid. Later such bands as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane (but not Starship so much), The Mamas & The Papas, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and Crosby, Stills, Nash (with or without Young). Although CSN&Y may not be truly “American” as Graham Nash is British and Neil Young is Canadian.

Lately, I’ve been listening to the Tom Petty channel on SiriusXM. Not for any special reason, just as a break from the usual music I listen to. Plus, he’s a Floriduh native as I am. There was a guest celebrity DJ on the TP channel the other day (I think it was Dave Schools, the bassist for Widespread Panic) that mentioned that Petty’s American Girl may be the song that introduced most people to his music since it has been on quite a few movie soundtracks. See this wiki page for more information. And that may be true, but I found his music in other ways.

The song was the final song performed by the band live, on September 25, 2017, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los AngelesCalifornia. Petty died of complications from cardiac arrest after an accidental prescription medication overdose on October 2, just more than a week later, signaling the end of the Heartbreakers’ 40-year career.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Girl_(Tom_Petty_song)

But, that’s not the song I want to talk about. When Wifey and I heard that comment, I said that I was unsure of which song was the what turned me on to Tom’s music. It was between two. One of which is the subject of this post, the other will surface in another post coming up (for a different reason altogether).

That was a hard record to make. It was a 4-track that I made at my house. He (Tom Petty) wrote over the music as it was, no changes, but it took us forever to actually cut the track. We just had a hard time getting the feel right. We must have recorded that 100 times.
I remember being so frustrated with it one day that – I think this is the only time I ever did this – I just left the studio and went out of town for two days. I just couldn’t take the pressure anymore, but then I came back and when we regrouped we were actually able to get it down on tape.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugee_(Tom_Petty_and_the_Heartbreakers_song)

This song peaked at 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980. And Melissa Etheridge did a wonderful cover of it. So, without further ado, here is Refugee.

What’s your favorite Tom Petty song? Leave me a comment (preferably here and not on that social media page – I won’t see if for days, maybe even weeks!).

Peace,
B

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Reflections on Sixty

Yes, today I hit the big 6 – 0, I think about 7PM tonight, but I don’t have my birth certificate here to read. Sixty damn years on this rock travelling around the sun. Not bad for one who didn’t expect to see 25. But you can blame Wifey® for that.  I would have been either dead or living on the street long ago if not for her love. 

Here are some of the things that stand out about my early life growing up in South Florida. 

  • Go barefoot as often as possible – screw the sand burrs.
  • Rain can be fun – I remember sitting in my front yard watching it rain on the house across the street – but not on me.
  • Wear sunscreen – well, I didn’t learn that as a kid. I was much older with kids of my own before that sunk in. I dare say I was sunburned more often than not.

Needless to say, life has taught me many lessons since those carefree days of running around in just a pair of shorts, chasing lizards, and playing ball. Most of it good, but there have been lots of tough lessons too. But I won’t get into that. 

Things from way-back-when I still remember;

  • My big brother picking me up early to go fishing on my birthdays. I never caught a single damn fish, but it was still fun, riding down US1 to the Florida Keys and fishing off the pylons and bridges. 
  • The first football game I went to. My mother was president of the high school PTA, so she always had a little table or booth at every game. I don’t remember what the function of the table was for, was she selling something? But I remember that first game, I was maybe 6. Her table was in a location where she couldn’t see the field, so she had to listen to the PA announcer to know how the game was progressing. Our team had made a first down, and mom, being the somewhat rabid football fan that she was, was happy. I had no idea what a “first down” was, so I asked. All she said was “that means they get to keep going”. Not knowing anything about football, or any sport really, it made no sense to me. But it made my mom happy, so I took it as a good thing.
  • My oldest sister took me along with her date, to a local fair. This was one of the little travelling deals that used to set up in shopping center parking lots. You just don’t see those anymore.  She, and my other sister as well, would take me along to these affairs quite often.  I clearly remember sitting in the Faris Wheel, between my sister and her date, stuck at the top for a good ten minutes. It was night time, so all the lights in the area were quite amazing. We could even see a little of the airport from our vantage point. I don’t think her date was as excited as I was. I wonder why??
  • My other sister and her friends using me as a makeup dummy. They used to try different shades of lipstick, and who knows what else on me to find the correct complimentary colors. Maybe that’s why clown makeup was such an obvious thing for me. Who knew lipstick was a gateway drug??
  • The importance of animals. We always had a pet of some kind in the house. Many times several at the same time. I learned just how important that relationship is, and it taught me the compassion and some of the responsibilities that are needed to maintain a family. 
  • Since my birthday falls around, and sometimes on, Thanksgiving, my mom would buy me pretty much whatever I wanted for my birthday dinner. Mostly to get me out of the way while she and my sisters were working on the big dinner. I always asked for pizza. From one place only. Frankie’s on Bird Road. They didn’t deliver, and the line was always long. But I would get my pizza, take it to my room, turn up the music as loud as I could get away with. That was cool!
  • My (still) best friend, Maurice and I spending entire days driving around in what we called “The Search For The Blue Nehi”. For those that don’t know what that is. A blue Nehi is a cream soda. It just happens to be a very lovely shade of blue. And it’s very hard to find. But it was a way to just drive around, make fun of people, and spend time with someone important.

I could go on forever. Remembrances of my military days. Going to Alaska, Korea, and all over the country. Having spent twenty years in the military and never seeing a day of combat is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, it kept me safe, but all my soldier buddies that were pulled from our hospital duties to deploy for Desert Shield/Storm came back at least one rank higher (some two ranks higher). Meanwhile, the reservists that came in to take their place lost my promotion paperwork twice!

What about my wife and kids and grandkids? So many memories I could write pages upon pages. So that will be another post, I’m afraid. 

Before I leave you today, I do have a birthday request. Not just for my birthday, but for anyone’s birthday. 

I have been blessed with more than I need. I have family, friends, a roof over my head that has room for more than just me, food aplenty, lots of beer and whisky, and pretty good health. While I want lots of stuff, I am not in need of anything. I bet you’ve friends and family that can say the same. So, don’t give material things (unless there is a special need for that thing). What I would love is donations to a good charity instead.  And there are many LOCAL charities available.

  • A local women’s shelter
  • A local homeless shelter
  • Your local animal shelter
  • A local food bank

I don’t like big conglomerate charity places (i.e. United Way and the like). Their problem is overhead. One report I read said that for every dollar donated to these types of organizations, only 3 cents or so actually make to the folks that need it. Give directly whenever possible.  National charities are good too.

  • The Red Cross (International!)
  • St. Jude’s
  • Many veteran’s organizations.

That’s enough, you get my drift. Make a donation in your loved one’s name (and don’t wait for a birthday or other holiday). And if you’re an Amazon shopper like I am, use their automatic donation option. You can have a portion of your purchases go directly to the charity of your choice. It costs you nothing. Currently, I have St. Jude’s as my choice. But I do change it now and then.

Having said that, if anyone wants to send me a boatload of cash so I can get those “wants, but not needs”, I’m not gonna say no. A nice big pellet smoker, an RV (along with a new vehicle) are on that list. And they ain’t cheap. 

But now I have to take on another of my birthday traditions. Namely, cook my own birthday dinner. But hey, I don’t mind. I cook because I love to eat. 

Thanks for spending a little of my birthday with me. I appreciate your time. Hope your day goes well, as I expect mine to go. But I really must go, the smoker ain’t gonna light itself!

I leave you with this video, which has absolutely nothing to do with birthdays. But it’s another memory from one of my trips around the sun. This one is for you Lloyd.

Peace,
B

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How’s Your Day Going??

So today has not started off all that well.  But it’s looking better.

First thing – checked my email and found that the professional genealogist I contacted to help with a search said no. She wouldn’t help me. Just referred me to someone “local”. I can’t even pay anyone to help me find ancestors.

Traffic today was super stupid. There were two guys going 30 MPH (in a 45 MPH area) side by side blocking traffic. This was planned, as they were laughing at each other and waving every time someone honked at them.  And, of course, this was in a no passing area (double yellow line).

Finally, this guy in a very large pickup truck passed them (crossing the double yellow line), pulled over to the right lane and basically just stopped.  This allowed everyone to get around the other jerk. There was much yelling and the customary middle finger salute as folks went around. I saw the passenger door on the big truck open, but no idea if someone got out to have a nice discussion with the gentleman now trapped in his vehicle. I haven’t seen any reports of an incident in that area on Twitter, so hopefully, it was settled without violence. Well, maybe just a little violence.

The next problem – the lines at McDonald’s. Only about 20 cars deep at the drive through and folks lined up out the door to get inside! Were they giving something away? I didn’t have time to sit and wait to find out. Mainly due to the idiots mentioned above that put me a good ten minutes behind schedule.

But wait! It get’s better.  The coffee pot at work is DOA. Seriously, WTF??? But I did find an old one in my bosses office, so I took it.  Hey, he’s off today. Besides, he doesn’t have a carafe for it anyway.  So coffee was finally made.

One more thing – my SiriusXM app wouldn’t load. It’s common for the app (the “official” Windows 10 version from the Micro$oft store) not to open the first time. But today, it took a good thirty minutes for it to load.

I’ll tell you, a day without coffee and no tunes? No chance. I would have gone home.

So, how’s your day going?

Peace,
B

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Celebrate Good Times (Come On)!

Yesterday we had the final celebration of Wifey® and granddaughter-the-elder’s birthdays. Since they both have birthday’s on or around the 4th, and we live in a tourist area, sometimes we have to do our celebrating in stages. Plus it’s more fun to keep the celebrations going for a while! Then this morning, Wifey® reminded me that today is our 73rd six-month anniversary. Yes, we celebrate every six months since that was how long we were told we would last. Ha!

So yesterday the family went to Universal City Walk and had a great time. It was all son-the-younger’s idea. Since Wifey® and I both agree we have too much stuff, we would rather do things with whichever family members we can get together. Son-the-younger picked Blueman Group, and since none of us have ever seen that show, I immediately agreed.

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My fam-damily!

And boy did we pick a hell of a day!  The rain was so bad on the way over to Orlando, we could barely see the hood of the car. But there was no rain in Orlando (surprise!). We had crazy heat. Well maybe not crazy, after all, we are Florida natives (except for son-the-younger, he’s our “token Eskimo” – he was born in Alaska).

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Feels like 108!

So our basic “plan” (we never have a plan – or if we do we don’t follow it), was to get to City Walk around 3PM, walk around and shop a bit, then catch an early dinner and the finally the Blueman Group show at 6PM. But as luck would have it, we sat down at the Lone Palm Bar (part of Margaritaville) and had a few beers. Son-the-younger took his girls and walked around. They found the hot dog stand. And they know that I love hot dogs. But, even cooler, they found stadium seats from some major league stadiums! They also know that papa loves baseball!

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My baby girls in the doughnut chair

Once we realized that we had missed our time for an early dinner, we decided that another round of beers was in order and that we would go to the theater and wait for the show.

Since it was so hot and humid outside, the theater was like an ice-box. But man did it feel good! Plus we were allowed to bring in our drink and snacks! I won’t give much of a review of the show as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone that hasn’t had the pleasure of seeing it.

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Beer, popcorn, and Minecraft swords! Oh, my!

The Blueman Group show was totally awesome! I have not laughed that hard in a long time. I was already fighting a head cold and scratchy throat before we went, so now I can hardly talk. But it was completely worth it. wp-1531740904422..jpg

After the show, we went to the restaurant that we used as a ruse to plan this whole adventure. We didn’t tell Wifey® about the show, only we were going to dinner. But since we had waited so long, there was now an hour wait. What to do? What else, go have another beer!  So back around the park, we go back to the Lone Palm Bar. But our very cool server, Bethany, was off shift now. But we only had time for one beer, so it was all good.

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It was 9PM or so by the time we got to eat. The girls were very hungry, almost to the point of feeling sick. But the milkshakes they had took care of that quickly. I will say I was not happy with my meal, but I don’t blame the restaurant. By this time I was feeling so bad, between the heat and the head cold, that nothing would have tasted good to me.  Everybody else said their meals were great, so I’ll take the heat on this one.

Other than stupid Orlando traffic, and all the damn construction, the drive home was a little easier. Traffic on I-4 (AKA The Devil’s Highway), which according to a recent study is the most dangerous road in America, was light. But we still didn’t get home until midnight.

But all in all, a most spectacular evening! I highly recommend Blueman Group. We’ve already made plans to bring the girls to the Universal Theme Park and Harry Potter.  Stay tuned for that review!

So, how was your weekend?

Peace,
B

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Let’s Butcher Another Song, Shall We?

This morning on the way to work (later than usual due to a morning doctor’s appointment) I tweeted this:

tweet

Yes, I was once again stuck behind non-driving fools. The guy in the left lane even had the right turn signal on, for about 2 miles, and then turned left, with the right blinker still blinking away! #SMH

I do have a problem with the song I parody in the tweet. It gives clowns a bad name! As a registered clown, I take a bit of umbrage on this point. But I’ll let it slide because the video is just so trippy!

crop clown makeup.jpg

Skeeter the clown. (ca. 1982)

Peace,
B

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7 Day B&W Photo Challenge – Day 1

matheson hammock

I was challenged by Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine to do the “7 Day Black and White Photo Challenge”, and I’m always up for a challenge. The rules are simple: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Today I’ll nominate: BeautyBeyondBones

Peace,
B

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To Follow Up

This morning I tweeted this:

tweet

For those not here in Floriduh, basically, it’s rained something like 12 or 13 days straight. Here’s my other post on this nasty weather.

But this morning the sun came up so very, very bright. It was much like this…

Monty_Python_and_the_Holy_Grail_2-1000x601

Walking in with a co-worker this morning from the parking lot, and she said “It was so bright when I was getting ready for work, I had to check what time it was. I thought I was late!”

But alas, it won’t stay.  My favorite weatherman Brian Shields over at WFTV says we can expect about four more inches of rain over the weekend. This won’t bother me so much, as my plan for the weekend is finishing the floor. (See here and here about the floor).  But I do worry that all the rain means that the little girls will have nothing to do and will be underfoot all weekend. </sigh>

But we’ll get through it. As of today, we are nowhere near the May record rainfall. Last I looked we are just under 6 inches of total rain this month. The record is almost 14 inches, set in 2009 I believe.

So, tell me, “How’s the weather where you are”?

And this song has nothing to do with the weather, but it is about “Sunshine”. And it’s one of my all-time favorite songs.

Peace,
B

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(I really should stop linking to my FB page. I never go there anymore…)

Conference Time

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the KnowBe4 conference in Orlando. (Official hashtag: #KB4Con18). This was without a doubt the best tech conference I have ever attended. Not only were there absolutely dynamic speakers, all attendees were treated to the best food!  I’m talking some of the healthiest stuff I have ever seen at any conference.

I’ve mentioned KnowBe4 before. This is the vendor we use at the city to train, test and generally harass our end-users (OK, maybe not harass). (KnowBe4 website) With just a small part of their product, I can train my co-workers on the latest ways the “bad guys” try to use social engineering to do well, bad stuff. I will admit that I enjoy sending out simulated phish emails. Why? Because it shows me where are weak links are. And this gives me the means to do targeted training to make our city network, and by association everyone’s home PC/Network, that much more secure. I don’t do it to shame someone or hold it over anyone’s head. Since I have been an instructor of some sort for very many years, I use this primarily as a training tool. But on to the conference itself.

Other than the hour plus, each way, drive on I4 (A.K.A. the devil’s highway), and being in Orlando (way too big and crazy for me), everything else went beautifully. The folks at KnowBe4 went above and beyond in this, their first ever conference.

The opening keynote speaker was Kevin Mitnick, or as he likes to call himself “The World’s Most Famous Hacker”, a title he lives up to. If you don’t know who he is, take a moment to read his Wikipedia page, even if it a bit light on his history. Kevin gave us many demonstrations of current hacks, all of which arrive via an inconspicuous email. And all of which are very nasty. But the one hack that scared me the most was when he showed how Google’s two-factor authentication (2FA) could be hacked. Google has always been one of the toughest to crack since they stay on the cutting edge of all technologies. As a big user of many Google services, this is troublesome.

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Me and Kevin Mitnick

The keynote speaker for the next day was Frank Abangale. I have to admit that I did not recognize his name. But once I heard his story I knew how he was. Here is his Wikipedia page for you to educate yourself. Frank is considered one of the foremost experts on imposters and forgery. Steven Spielberg made a movie “Catch Me If You Can” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank and Tom Hanks as FBI Agent Carl Hanratty. I have not seen this movie, but I see it available on Amazon Prime so I will correct that error very soon. And if I caught his reference, he was also the inspiration for the TV show “White Collar”.  His family story and subsequent talk on how to keep safe with online financial sources was very eye-opening.

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Myself and Frank Abangale

Another fantastic speaker was Roger A. Grimes (he wants you to know he is not related to the Canadian political figure with the same name), the best-selling author of several tech books. KnowBe4 even included a copy of his “A Data-Driven Computer Security Defense” in the big ol’ backpack they gave every attendee. The big takeaway from his two talks was the point that you have to determine what your biggest exploitable problem is, and fix that first. Common sense, which as we all know, is always in short supply.

One thing that I really was happy to see was the inclusion of women speakers. KnowBe4 has several women in executive roles throughout the company, and that makes me very happy. Since I have two granddaughters, one of which is very interested in the sciences, I fully support women (and really anybody) in STEM (Science – Technology – Engineering – Mathematics). One of the first questions Wifey® asked me was if there were women presenters. I was so very happy to say yes!

There was one thing missing though. No vendor room. Every other conference I’ve been to there is always a room for vendors. Not only can one make some great contacts with products and services that one doesn’t know about, vendors always have cool swag (freebie gifts). I’ll have to check with my manager, but I think a conference is how we found out about KnowBe4. It may not have been in the vendor area, it may have been word of mouth from another attendee (word of mouth is ALWAYS the best advertisement).

Sorry, this is such a broad overview, but I could write about ten pages if I covered the entire 3 days. All I can say is “I’m ready for KB4Con19!”

Peace,
B

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I Call Shenanigans

Floriduh is supposed to be “The Sunshine State”.  Not this week.  And I really need it to be. I have a PC Security conference in Orlando starting this evening and running through Friday evening. To save my employer a bit of money, I picked a cheaper (by half price) hotel, just down the street from the hotel where the conference will be held. The plan was to park my truck and walk back and forth. I did this for two reasons, one, I don’t want to have to pay the parking fees at both hotels, and second, the walk will replace at least some of the missed elliptical time.  Not to mention, I doubt an Uber driver will want to pick up that short of a trip (0.3 miles according to Google Maps).

But no… There is a big low-pressure system off our west coast and big high-pressure system off the east coast. And between the two of them, we got nothing but rain.  As one of the weather guys on a local channel posted:

 

thisweek

Thanks to Brian Shields of WFTV for the image (and no I didn’t ask permission)

 

So I guess I’ll be paying double parking fees…

Sheesh!

Peace,
B

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Hey! All Us Miami Folks!

So, “Back in the day” which is around 1972 or maybe even earlier (this would be the beginning of FM radio), we had three good rock n’ roll radio stations in Miami. We had WBUS “The Magic Bus” which was very “underground” at the time. Although I remember their van coming to my junior high school (what would be a middle school today) when I was in 8th grade (about 1971 – see I told you I was old). Many years later this station became WWLL “Love 94”, which was one the first “soft rock” stations. Never really cared for Love 94.

We also had WINZ-FM, or as we knew it “Zeta 4”. When this station started I remember being in the yard with my brother. We found a station that was playing music we really liked and there were no commercials! It’s a matter of business that most new stations rarely have a lot of commercial revenue when they start-up. And since WINZ-AM was a well-known and respected station in the area, they could afford to start a new “Album Oriented Radio” (now known as classic rock) station without a lot of revenue.

Doing some spring cleaning this weekend I found this:

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I wore a patch like this on many different hats over the years (and yes I almost always have a hat on).

Finally, we had the station that lasted the longest, WSHE “She’s only rock and roll”. This has to be the best radio slogan I’ve ever heard. It plainly states the entire purpose of the station.  I don’t know how long SHE lasted, as we moved away in 1982. But I do remember that’s how I heard of the pope being shot.

So, Miami folks, who remembers these stations? Add some more in the comments!

Peace,
B

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