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Apr. 30th, 2014

Respeck Knuckles

Of Landlines & Scammers

I still have a landline for entertainment purposes. Scammers call and I can go all Jerky Boys on them, which is exactly what I needed this evening after installing a new toilet.

The phone goes off and the Caller ID is all zeroes. Excellent! This is heavily edited in case there are children in the room....

Me: Hello? Hello! (repeat another eight or nine times because nobody is on the other end until...)
Scammer: Hello, sir?
Me: Hello?
Scammer: Sir! Hello!
Me: Oh my, nobody was there so I thought something happened to you.
Scammer: Sir, I am here.
Me: Are you in danger?
Scammer: hahaha No, sir, I am not in danger. Is this James?
Me: I'm glad you are alright.
Scammer: Sir, is this James?
Me: Yes.
Scammer: Good, I am [name redacted] from Microsoft. Are you near your computer?
Me: Yes, I am.
Scammer: Good. I need you to press the Windows key and press the letter R...
Me: I don't have a Windows key on my Mac keyboard.
Scammer: Sir, you have a Windows computer. Press the Windows key...
Me: Are you saying I do not have an iMac and a Mac Mini?
Scammer: Yes, you have a Windows computer.
Me: I have two Apple computers.
Scammer: Sir, you are lying.
Me: C'mon, don't say that. You will burn in hell for calling me a liar when I am not lying. I want us to be friends. I want to bring chicken wings over to your house and watch football...
Scammer: Sir...
Me: ...and I think we'd be pals, but you can't call me a liar.
Scammer: Sir... [then he whispered something obscene to me]
Me: How can we be friends when you say that to me?

From there the improve broke down a little because he went out of scammer character and let off a tirade of filth the likes of which I hope you never hear. Sure, I responded in a friendly voice with things like, “Oh no, I won't do those things, but I will...” and he kept going on for a literal minute as his speaking got faster and his accent got thicker.

The moral of the story: Microsoft apparently hires foul mouthed people that call you on the telephone because handling things electronically in the Internet Age is too unreliable. And if you have a sense of humor and feel that tweaking criminals is alright then you have fun at the most unexpected times.

Apr. 3rd, 2014

Respeck Knuckles

Death to Winter!

I am not one to complain about the weather, but some people do. If you are one of the many people that are done seeing snow then please live vicariously through my son.

Nov. 5th, 2013

Respeck Knuckles


I voted today and then called home to tell Angie that voting is pointless and futile and democracy doesn't work. Why? Because the only thing on my ballot was for mayor and the current mayor is running unopposed. That ballot, itself, is the size of a Denny's place mat and I asked the pollworker if I could have a crayon to color the drawings on the back.

Nov. 4th, 2013

Respeck Knuckles

Ah, Autumn

We have a municipal yard waste dump on my fair city of Wyoming, Michigan. I am more than happy that my property taxes help fund it because with my insanely large oak tree, two maple trees, and neighbor's trees, I end up filling 120 of those tall paper yard sacks. It's impossible to imagine finding another place to legally dispose of that many leaves.

Right now the race is on to the end of November when we can assume that at any moment snow, or a good freeze, will make the remaining leaves stick to the ground until April. Because of the dump I can keep reusing the same 15 paper sacks and so far I've delivered 45 bags to the dump. Yes, that's just over one third for the season. That means I have to deliver at least 18 bags a week to the dump to stay on schedule.

A funny thing about going to the dump. I have a Toyota Echo and I've found ways to pack it full of leaf bags. When I show up there are usually mini vans and guys raking leaves from the back of their pickup trucks when I start unpacking the car. After the the fourth bag they often stop and stare at me and I know what they are thinking. So I'll look and say, "Nine bags. That's how many I can put into the Clown Car at one time."

I think what I'm trying to say is this, guys you have to make your own fun even when it comes to large seasonal chores.

Oct. 31st, 2013

Respeck Knuckles

(no subject)

This is the source material for the movie Ghostbusters. Ray Parker Jr. was sued for plagiarism for the theme song yet the movie studio wasn't sued for stealing everything from this cartoon. Even the line, "I ain't scared of no ghosts."

Jan. 28th, 2013

Respeck Knuckles

Snow Day

The Missus: Children, you have the day off from school due to bad weather.

Sam: Good! Because I didn't want to turn in my science project.

Me: Why, is it not ready?

Sam: No, it's ready. I just didn't want to turn it in today.

Jun. 28th, 2012

Respeck Knuckles


I was kind of shocked that the Affordable Care Act was deemed legal across the board. Don't get me wrong, I support the president and the troops, but I didn't think that with almost three years of shouting, lies, and forwarded e-mail propaganda from opponents that cooler heads would prevail.

Tonight the missus has to go console a friend now that "Obamacare" will continue to be the law of the land. I suggested that she encourage her friend to refrain from right-wing media for a week or two, if possible, or this friend will need anti-anxiety meds. Medication that will paid for by that person's health insurance, a fact that amuses me since the ACA does not effect this friend.

Guys, so hug a Republican. They need it right now.

Jun. 27th, 2012

Dude - WTF

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

A month ago we played outside in the drizzle at a festival in downtown Grand Rapids. A huge drop of rain fell on the finger board of my guitar during this song and for a moment I thought I'd broken a string.

I was able to snag video from two different people and wanted to use audio from one source and video from two sources. To do this I had to consult with someone familiar with editing videos on iMovie: my eleven year old son. He showed me how to detach the audio from the main source and to mute the video from the other source and in an hour this is what we accomplished:

Jun. 12th, 2012

Respeck Knuckles

Music For The Month Of June

A friend of ours had a mother-in-law's wedding on June 1st and the missus and I recorded instruments for our friend to use as a backup track for her to sing at the wedding. We recorded her as a completion of the project and here it is:

That same day the missus & I (Saltmine Canary) played in the rain at Festival Of The Arts in downtown Grand Rapids. The other Jim from my cover band, Coulda Woulda Shoulda, recorded the performance and posted this video:

Jun. 1st, 2012

Respeck Knuckles

Festival's Past and Present.

I've been attending Festival Of The Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan, since I moved to the area in the 90s. All of the music and live entertainment you could want spread over three days for no admission fee. The only way Festival is more exciting for me is when I am playing on one of their stages.

The first year I played Festival was in 2006 when I was in Signal Trip. When we applied for Festival earlier that year we had only played out three or four times doing nothing but classic rock cover songs. Out time slot began at 11:30am on Sunday and the band before us was a female fronted band of high schoolers. Even though they hit the stage at 10:45am they delivered a powerful set of classic rock and original songs. At our next band rehearsal it was decided that we had to start writing songs.

Our return to Festival in 2008 had big hopes and promise. Earlier that year we finished recording an album with ten original songs and plans to play most of them at our Friday 5:30pm time slot. But due to internal issues we were not able to perform as a full band, and because of that it was decided by some that we scrap most of the originals and play mostly cover songs. This was a disappointment to me because there were two members of the Corner Laughers in the audience for a performance that was sub par.

In 2009 we played Festival on a Saturday afternoon under one of the two tents. This helped us maintain a large audience because shortly after we began it started to rain. We ended up playing a lot of originals that were from our CD and songs that would appear on a future album. We must have played everything really fast because we played a lot of songs.

Festival 2011 was much different for me because I played with Saltmine Canary, the band formed by the missus & me. We had some original songs and a couple of quirky cover tunes planned. However, we didn't get to play everything because I broke two guitar strings on the third song. Because we were only going to play for maybe thirty minutes I didn't bring a second guitar. Do you know how long it takes to change two guitar strings? It feels a lot longer when you're doing it on stage. You live and you learn. Well, you live anyway.

We are scheduled to play tomorrow at 2:45pm and the National Weather Service is predicting a temperature of 58 degrees and a 100% chance of rain. That doesn't mean that there will be rain 100% of the time so we shall see about that. But we will be in downtown Grand Rapids with all our gear and ready to play. And I will have a spare guitar.

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