Tuesday, May 15, 2018

My Brother Graduates College

Hey there everyone. My brother graduated from college over the weekend. Well, he walked in graduation over the weekend; technically he finished classes back in December, but his school gets so much snow in the winter they measure it in feet, and my grandparents weren't going to be able to make that trip. So instead of braving a frozen tundra, we went on a calm trip that was still a little nippy (there were mounds of snow, our hotel had a sign on the door that said "patio may be icy," and according to my brother there was still a fair amount of snow when he went back a week before to tie up some loose ends. Anyways, my brother, dad, and I took one car and my mom, grandpa, and grandma took another car. Mom left on Thursday and took 2 days to get there, whereas Dad, bro, and I took 1 day to get there.

Now for some stories. I took off the Friday because graduation was Saturday and we needed to travel all day Friday. The plan was I go to my parents house on Thursday, spend the night, and then we leave right from there house Friday morning at like 6AM. On Thursday afternoon, one of the project managers decided to hold a meeting 10 minutes before I was going to leave, and I was determined to get out of there. I came in, said "here's what you need to work on, I'm going on vacation now." He kept pressing the things I was saying his team needed to work on, and why I was bringing it up to him, and I responded "because that's what senior management wanted me to do, now I'm going to start my vacation." This went on for 40 minutes. Now, this manager and I have a good working relationship, and the kind of banter we were having is OK because of what we've been through, so it's not like I was causing any problems, but I did have a rocky start to this little trip. Once I finally got out of work, I packed up my stuff, and began my hour long drive to my parents house (because rush hour traffic). For dinner, "the men" had pizza from one of the local joints. I basically spent the night streaming playstation vue and trying to finish a project I started 2 years ago. I also cleaned off my video camera memory card, because I was going to film graduation and I don't want to run out of space (because that would be bad). I also wanted a drink after the day I had, but dad and bro don't like the same kind of alcohol I like (they like just beer, I like everything except beer), so I was really glad to find one of my Henry's Hard Soda's in their mini-fridge from the last time I visited.

OK, wake up at 5:45, load up my stuff into the jeep, eat my muffin, pack some drinks and snacks for the road, and get ready for a 10 hour car ride. I was finally going to watch some of my DVD box sets. I started out with Please Twins (which I reviewed and can be found here), an anime series I picked up at a thrift store on impulse (it was $3, and I like anime). Pretty funny series, even if it is a bit weird. After that I watched the first half of Futurama season 5. That was pretty much what we did for the drive. While we were driving, we stopped at a gas station, and it just so happened that we caught up with my mom and grandparents at that same gas station. What a coincidence. I also picked up some chips. I got dill pickle flavored chips and maple bacon flavored chips. The maple bacon flavored ones were REALLY good. I don't know how to describe them, except like the perfect blend of sweet and salty, with a hint of bacon. After 9.5 hours of driving, we reach my brother's college town, and we stop at his and dad's favorite bar. They each have a beer, and as someone that doesn't care for beer I had their house soda (a cherry root beer). Now, I'm not a big fan of root beer, but it was cool having a house brewed soda. After our drinks, we checked into our hotel and unpacked, and mom arrived at about the same time.

Now for trying to figure out dinner. At first we thought "order in pizza," but we couldn't really find a good place. Them my mom had the idea of "lets get these local meat pies," because grandpa and bro really like them, and everyone else likes them, except me. Luckily the place that makes them also makes deli sandwiches, so I had an Italian beef sandwich. I had my sandwich, and everyone else had their meat pie. Now, it's been a good 6 years since I last had one of the meat pies, so my brother wanted me to try it again; I did, and still didn't like it. This confused my grandpa; "what do you mean you don't like it, it's good stuff." Because I like my potatoes fried not baked, I don't like the other things they put in it like peas, and they don't put nearly enough meat in it for my liking. Oh, and here's a real hoot; when we went to get the food, I ran into one of my old college professors. This was really unlikely, because my old college and my brother's college are nowhere close to each other. He must have been there for graduation as well. I made some small talk, and pulled out my challenge coin I got for completing the program. That impressed him some. Then when we went to pick-up some house brew beer from dad and bro's favorite bar, we ran into some of his old professors. That was kind of fun.

Now the real festivities begin. Bro's program was holding a little reception at one of the dorm ball rooms the night before graduation. My grandparents wanted to go, but they have trouble walking, and the ball room was down a bunch of stairs. That was not good, because that meant they weren't able to go, because this was held in a location that was not ADA compliant. Apparently there was a freight elevator, but that went to an office that no one had the key to. We found this out after getting my grandparents in the car and driving there. Needless to say we were not happy, and Mom made it known. I suggested we sue, to get some of our tuition money back, but we didn't go through with it. So, I took a bunch of the cookies they were serving. Mom asked me "why am I taking so many cookies," and I said "they're for the pain and suffering; if we aren't going to sue, I'm going to take a lot of cookies." She didn't argue with that; no "that's childish, grow up, let it go," because they had it coming. It was a nice little reception. They showed all the graduates in a slideshow, and bro's picture had him with scraggly hair and unkempt beard. Since my grandpa couldn't be there, I played his complaints; "hey, that beard doesn't look good, you knew you were getting your picture taken, why didn't you clean up your beard, and why didn't you get a hair cut." Just yanking his chain.

Now for the big day. Bro goes there early because he's part of the event, and mom went early to make sure they got a good seat. Now, my brother was only able to get 4 main stadium tickets, but there were 5 of us. So, the parents and grandparents take the main stadium tickets, and I had to sit in overflow. Overflow, means I had to watch it in the basketball gym on a projector. It was the same live stream my other grandpa and aunt watched at her house. Anyways, I was still going to film the important parts (even if it was a low quality boot leg, lol). Now, seeing that this wasn't my first graduation, I knew I needed to bring something to keep me occupied. Yes, the speeches by the university president and guest speakers are generally good (unless it's a 2 hour speech on the peace corps, like my mom experienced at another graduation ceremony), but I don't care about the 400 other students getting their names read. So I brought Avatar The Search Part 1 and Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, 2 books that have been sitting on my shelf for years. I also had my 3DS, but I take it everywhere so it's not like that's special. I also had my camera bag, and safety vest, and cargo shorts full of my normal random stuff, and my fedora. Now the trick to looking so conspicuous is to subtly act like you're official and should look that way. Seeing that I like to casually dress like this and have been for 8 years, I've learned how to do that, but I was fully prepared to get searched. The bag checker asked to see inside my camera bag, saying "just looking for bombs, flasks, weapons, drugs, and such." Well, it's a good thing I don't carry my pocket knife in my camera bag. I found a good seat in the center. I played my 3DS, and read the dedications that were being shown. One student thanked Monster Energy Drink, and that was funny.

Now for the great thing. About 10 minutes before the ceremony started, a lady came in and said "OK everyone, we have about 200 seats open behind the graduates, anyone interested?" Sure, I'll take a better seat. I go there and "set up camp." The grads were all in, and I took some video. Here's something good. While taking the zoom shots, one of the people in front of me kind of kept getting in the shot. I thought "hey old man, can you stop getting in the shot" (he had white hair). After about 45 minutes, I thought "the back of those people's heads looks familiar," and then I realized that was my family, like 5 rows in front of me. How about that? So my mom got there 3 hours early to make sure she got a good seat for my physically challenged grandparents, and I get essentially the same seat by chance 10 minutes before it starts. The speakers were good, and they did it in alphabetical order. Though, it was a little confusing since one announcer was reading the graduates from 1 department, and the other was reading the graduates from another department; but I eventually figured out the rhythm and was able to read my books while I waited for my brother to get called. Then when he got called, I continued reading my books. Part way through the ceremony my grandpa had to stand up and turned around some, and saw me; then everyone turned around and saw me.

Afterwards I met up with them and helped get them out of the stadium. I also brought up how much of a hoot it was that I was able to essentially sit with them. We got everyone out and in the hallway while we wait for my bro. When he shows up we go to the photo op area and take some pictures. We even get some with the mascot. There were also some refreshments. Mom and I each had a $100,000 cupcake. And after some time, we happened to get our picture with the university president, because he happened to walk through the hallway at the same time we were. Cool. We also took some pictures outside. Being an ammeter filmmaker, I played with perspective to make really good shots of the family. After those pictures, my brother and I went around to some more places around campus he wanted to get pictures of. Again, good thing I know some things about photography, because I was able to take some well composed shot (well, as good as one can take with what I had to work with).

After taking pictures, we stopped at his frat house. He said hi to his frat brothers, I introduced myself as "his biological brother," and I had a hot dog (because hadn't eaten anything since breakfast). They weren't the kind of frat boys I'm used to from my college days. The frat boys at my college were the typical "frat boys," whereas his frat brothers were more laid back. An hour later we had dinner at the hotel restaurant. There were also a lot of prom kids that started showing up as the dinner went on, because apparently it was prom weekend too. That took me back. The rest of the night was pretty laid back. My brother spent the night with his frat bros, and Mom just couldn't sleep because he was out.

Now it's Sunday, and we head back home. I finished Futurama season 5, and started Cowboy Bebop. We stopped at the same gas station that had the maple bacon chips, and I was going to buy many bags. Unfortunately, they were sold out. Something tells me I'm not the only one that really likes those chips. After 10 hours of driving, we arrive back at my parents house. We unloaded my dad and brother's stuff, I loaded up some stuff to take to my condo, and then I started the hour drive back to my place. It was a really good trip. Short, but good. This has been Pokematic, signing off, and bu-bye.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A 24 year old Sees The Donut Man Live (and a video store experience)

Hey everyone. A little backstory. 20 or so years ago as a young child, I was quite the fan of the Christian video series "The Donut Man." He would sing songs, do some skits, and teach us about God. It's very wholesome entertainment. My family loved The Donut Man so much that we would wear out the VHS tapes from regular use (because that was a downfall of VHS). I remember as a kid there were sometimes opportunities to see him live, but they never aligned with our schedule.

Fast forward 20 years and my mom finds out he's doing a show not too far from each of us, and asks if we should go together (because it's not AS weird when a 24 year old man goes to a children's event with his 54 year old mom). Well, first off I got turned around. My GPS took me to a party store that was a couple buildings down from the church he was performing at. I found a Baptist temple, but that wasn't the Catholic Byzantine I had to find. Well after drying around a little, and my mom using her yellow Jeep as a flag, I found my way.

We go in, buy our tickets, and tell the ticket sellers how I grew up with The Donut Man. Partially out of excitement, and also to let them know why 2 adults are going to a children's concert without children. We sat in the back to not draw too much attention, again, because 2 adults without kids at a kids concert. We sat down, trying to remember some of the old songs, and hoping he sings some of those old songs. Getting hyped.

Then he came out on stage. He was still very energetic, still looking very similar to the VHS, and still able to do the songs with silly voices. He sang a bunch of new ones that we didn't know, but we still participated doing the call and repeat and hand motions. But then he sang some that we did. When he started talking about Joshua and Jericho, my mom got excited. She remembered this one, and we started singing along. Then he started talking about mustard seeds, and we both got excited. Then when he started talking about David, and how he got in trouble for praying, I got excited, because I really liked David in the Lion's Den song. And then he ended it with Run Peter Run, a song about "you will deny me 3 times before the rooster crows" Peter, a song we REALLY loved back in the day. Needless to say, we got into it, and had some trouble containing our excitement. There was also a thing where he asked the audience "do you help your mom and dad?" I raised my hand, and mom wasn't raising hers. I grabbed her elbow and said "you help your mom and dad" and she said "right, I help my mom and dad A LOT."

Then after the show, he did a meet and greet for the kids and families to meet the man on TV and get pictures. He was very friendly and personal, asking about people's family and talking about his. Really friendly. Then when we got up we told him about how we watched him 20 years ago on VHS and how we really liked hearing the old songs. Then he talked about how great it was singing the oldies and having people that remember them. I even got a picture with him.

Now as I was driving there, I saw a video store on the other side of the street. I thought "I should stop there on my way back." At first I thought it was a "purchase store," but no, it was a "rental store;" and not just any rental store, like an "old school blockbuster" kind of store. They had everything divided by genre, movies and TV shows for sale, games, an anime section, and an adults section behind a curtain. It was like walking into the past. Oh but there's more, they had CRT's hanging from the ceiling, and a VCR behind the counter, and the computers had gray CRT monitors. I didn't rent anything, but I bought some PS2 games they had for sale, for $2 each. I don't know if they were worth $2, but any extra I paid was the price of admission to experiencing this living fossil.

So that was my awesome experience. A real "blast from the past" kind of day. This has been Pokematic, signing off, and bu-bye.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Christmas and New Years 2017 Craziness

Hey everyone. Here's a blog I meant to get out earlier, but I've been so busy I just didn't have the time. First and foremost, I moved. Yeah, moved out of my parents house to my own place. I'm now much closer to work, and I'm kind of wondering what I might do with the extra 2 hours I have every day. Basically every moment I wasn't doing a Christmas activity, I was packing my stuff and making runs to my new place. I'm still unpacking, but every day I get closer to "fully moved in." Now on to the fun stuff. And for future reference, whenever I say "kid(s)," I'm referring to someone that is not in my parent's generation; (s)he is not necessarily under 18.

First, the Christmas party with my mom's college friends. Oh it was fun seeing them again. One thing you need to know, one of the "kids" is an army vet. I made a couple of tasteful army jokes, such as asking him if they ever sing the Mickey Mouse theme song on patrol. To play along, he shushed me and said "that's a secret." Then there's the thing that my local hospital does. Every night in December, members of the community go outside the children's ward and shine flashlights up to their window and they shine them back. It's a nice little thing we do to show the hospitalized kids that have to be away from family and friends during the time of year. We were running a little late to get over there, so we jogged over. While we were jogging I chanted "one-two-three-four" in my best drill sergeant impression to my vet friend. He just turned to me and snarked "shuuuud-up." We made some kids happy, even though it was really cold. At the end of the night we always get all the "kids" on the couch and take a picture. We've gotten big over the years, and every year it gets more fun cramming onto the couch.

Now it's Christmas Eve. Every year we exchange gifts with my mom's side of the family on Christmas Eve. It started as a way for our grandparents to give my brother, cousin, and I our gifts from them and with my mom's side of the family. Us kids used to go to the McDonalds that's right by their house so Santa could set-up, and it's still tradition to do it. Though, with it being so cold this year and my grandparents not getting any younger, we just brought the McDonalds in. It was a fun little time. After spending the day with them, we went to church and had Christmas Eve mass. My brother and I drove my grandparents to church and the roads were REALLY bad. I was almost in an accident. After mass we took my grandparents to the Irish restaurant they like to go to on Christmas Eve. While they went to dinner, I went to a little Christmas party held by some old church friends. I haven't seen them in like 8 years. While I was never really close with the kids, it was fun seeing how much everyone has changed since then. While I was just getting comfortable to visit, my grandparents called and said they needed my brother and I to pick them up. While the roads were bad, I gotta say, I love driving at night in the snow with my car all warm. There's just something about "man concurring nature" that makes me feel so alive. That was Christmas Eve.

Now it's Christmas Day. My family exchanged gifts. Get a kick out of the thoughtful gifts I got my family. I got Dad a string of exterior solar power LED lights, Mom a box of dry erase expo markers, and my brother an LED pocket flashlight. Now you might be thinking "those aren't thoughtful, those sound lazy," but no; Dad loves exterior accent lights, Mom loves writing things on her white board, and my brother loves pocket flashlights. Now, because I was in the process of moving, I got a bunch of home appliances, like a George Foreman grill, fry baby, and the piece de resistance, a crockpot. That's a running gag in my family, because when I was in 2nd grade I swear my little brother got a crockpot for Christmas. Of course I'm the only one that believes it and I'm probably remembering events wrong, but it's a fun story. In highschool my parents got themselves a new crockpot, so they wrapped it up and put my name on it one year. Now as a 24 year old, I really did get a crockpot for Christmas. After some hanging out and watching A Christmas Story on TBS (because I needed to atone for A Christmas Story Live), we got ready for hosting Christmas at our house. We had my grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousin, and my grandparents close friends. We visited, had dinner, and did our sing-along, because grandparent's friend plays the accordion and we always have a sing along with polkas and Christmas music. After some family visiting, some close friends from middle school came over for fun. It was great catching up with them. Good fun.

Now for the first day of Kwanza we had Christmas with my dad's side of the family, my grandpa and aunt. There isn't much to talk about, other than we visited. Here's a question, what do you get a 90 year old man? Kind of difficult, but he likes meat, coffee, and is great grandkids (oldest cousin's kids). So, we got him steaks, 5 pound bags of Dunkin Donuts coffee, and a photo mug with pictures of his 2 great grandsons. He really liked them. We gave my aunt the same photo mug, and she really liked it.

Now I'm not quite sure what day this happened on, but we had the get together with my mom's best friend since elementary school and her kids. We grew up together, and it was really fun seeing them. I don't have a lot to really talk about with this one, but I remember it being fun. There was also another day where I got together with Mskate. We hung out at my new condo and watched Treasure Planet. I suggested we watch Muppets Treasure Island but she wasn't too interested, but didn't know what Treasure Island was. I said "well, you know Disney's Treasure Planet, it's like that." She said she never saw Treasure Planet, but she loves the soundtrack. I said "OK, we're watching Treasure Planet." She enjoyed it, and she really did and wasn't just trying to be polite (because she does that every now and then). It was fun.

Now for New Years. It was hosted by one of our camping friends with most of the camping friends. We've been doing it for years, on and off. It was quite fun ringing in the new year with them. What was quite fun is one of the "kids" works for the same company I work for, so we had fun exchanging some war stories. All the "adults" enjoyed hearing about how I bought a condo. A fun thing was the hosts were sitting a hedgehog, named Quilium. It's been a while since I saw a hedgehog in person, and it was seeing another friendly small mammal. The hosts have some younger kids that were the primary caretakers, but like kids do they let the hedgehog go under the couch, so getting him out was fun. We also ended up playing XBOX after a while, and I said "man if I knew you had an XBOX I'd have brought my controller," (they only had 2 controllers). A funny thing was 2 of the host kids were arguing and another host kid said "you 2 need to behave better infront of guests," to which one replied "they aren't guests," and I added "at this point we're all family," and then one of the other "kids" said "for years I thought we were all cousins." We also played ping-pong, and they didn't have a ball for a good 10 minutes. Lucky for them, I carry around official bear pong balls with me wherever I go, for situations like this (I don't play beer pong, but I got them free at college). Around 11 PM, one of the "kids" (who was 26, just not in the parent's generation) wanted to make an alcohol run. We almost did, but through a combination of tired, rural area without a close liquor store, and really cold temperatures made us decide "we'll just wait until we go camping in the summer and can walk to the liquor store that's right off the campground." We watched the ball drop and everyone hugged each other "Happy New Year." About 30 minutes afterwards we left. I drove home because Dad was tired and Mom doesn't do directions. The roads were pretty clear. I guess all the "12:01 partiers were home" and the "up till 3 are still partying."

Overall fun time. New Years Day was pretty slow. I spent the night at my new place and went to work the next day. Overall, it was a fun time. But I'm quite glad it's over since my days were constantly getting ready for new parties. Well, this has been Pokematic, signing off, and bu-bye.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

My Cousin's Wedding Fun

Hey there everyone. This weekend was fun. One of my older cousins got married recently, and he had a reception for everyone over the weekend. Oh man, was that fun.

So first off, my brother came in briefly during the short period between his internship and when he has to go back to school. We had some fun visiting and enjoying his company for this very brief visit. We didn't get to do much, but he was able to join us for the wedding reception. I drove with him and we had fun shooting the breeze for the 2 hours it took to get to my cousin's. When we got to the hotel, we had an hour to chill before the festivities. I surfed the web and set-up the easy PZ podcast to upload while we were out. It was a good thing, because the hotel wifi was slow.

Now for the fun, the real fun, the reception. The actual ceremony happened about a month ago, after a 3 mile hike into the woods. All that were there were the bride, groom, best man, maid of honor, officiator, and camera man. We were able to watch the vows at the reception. That was fun. But what was really great is how most of my family was there, especially the family I don't get to see very often. I got to see my groom cousin, Japan cousin, and southern cousin (all 3 brothers), uncle, and aunt. It was really fun catching up with everyone. At dinner we had pulled pork and southern green beans (green beans, butter, onion, and bacon). Oh, that was good. There was also "advice for the Mr. and Mrs." cards for everyone to fill out. I said "eat your vegetables, get 7 hours of sleep a night, up up down down left right left right B A Start, and hand-me-downs are awesome especially from the big cousins."

Now for some real fun. The newlyweds rented a set of speakers and microphone. We set-up karaoke off youtube. It started out with 2 of the friends doing a duet of Summer Lovin' from Grease, but then I said "I want in, I want to sing the song that won me a karaoke contest in high school," with that song being Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Everyone really enjoyed it. I also tried to do Irish Pub by the Rumjacks, but that song is just too fast and I screwed it up bad. I had the chorus down though. Then the last song I did was Barbie Girl, and one of the other guests joined me and we did an impromptu duet trading lines. There were some other songs that I didn't sing, like the bride and her bridesmaids/friends singing All Star by Smashmouth. At one point the neighbors came out on their back porch to investigate (we were being a little loud and it was getting a little late). After Barbie Girl we just danced. We had glow sticks, so one guy had the idea of raving out to Sandstorm by Darude. That was fun, because we made it dark and everyone was flailing their glow sticks. After that I just kind of shook my arms at the following songs since my arms were dead after flailing so hard. lol. We went until about 9:30, then spent 30 minutes cleaning up. I slept pretty hard that night.

Oh what a fun time. It was great seeing everyone again, and having fun at the wedding reception. This has been Pokematic, signing off, and bu-bye.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Viewing the Partial Eclipse

Hey everyone. Boy do I have a story today. A lot of people have been talking about the solar eclipse today on social media, and some time before to let everyone know about it. I checked the map, and I thought I was going to miss it. Turns out I was looking at a full eclipse map, and the partial was visible. Thankfully, I didn't miss it.

Before I get to the main event, here's my history with eclipses. I've seen a couple lunar eclipses in my time. I vividly remember one when I was like 9, because I had my best friend over, and we were going pretty crazy. The second lunar eclipse was not to long ago in college, but it was pretty overcast so I didn't get to see much. This however, was my first solar eclipse, even if it was only a partial.

So I was a little, unprepared. I didn't have any glasses, or pin hole camera, or any of that. I figured, "I'll just glance up, real quick, and no damage." I mean, it's not a horrible idea. Definitely bad, and my eye doctor would be a tad upset, but it's not like a "stand and stare" sort of bad. There was a bit of a hiccup though. It was kind of cloudy today, so any coverage was diffused by the clouds and I only think I saw something. Oh well.

What was a saving grace though, was welders masks. One of the welders passed around his mask for everyone to try out. The logic being "I look at super bright things with this, so it's probably safe." It probably wasn't perfectly safe, but it worked. Through the dark green tint of the mask, I was able to see the sun partially covered by the moon. It was still pretty bright, but like looking at a light bulb without a diffuser bright, not staring directly at the sun bright. I didn't look very long though. Another thing that happened was there was a point with just the right amount of could density to see the eclipse without it being too bright. It was just like looking through the welder's mask. Also, it got noticeably darker. Not "night" dark, but "early evening" dark in the middle of the day.

As for at work. As stated, the welders brought out their masks, but it wasn't just that. Everyone who didn't have something that needed getting done right now was looking outside. There was a large group of people just hanging out by one of the doors, another group in the courtyard, and I'm sure there were people out on the smoking docks. It was pretty interesting, and it wasn't like management was getting angry, they were out there too, lol. Everyone understood that this is a 10 in a lifetime opportunity.

So this was my eclipse fun. Hopefully I can see a total eclipse one day, and next time I'll be better prepared. Well, this has been Pokematic, signing off, and bu-bye.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Camping with Friends

Hey everyone, it's that time of year again, the year I go camping with my family's camping friends. Let me get started with the prep-work. We went up on Friday, so that meant I had to take Friday off. I also packed up 3 days worth of clothes, with both warm and cold weather clothes. I also pulled together some activities. I brought my travel laptop and 3DS for the ride, and Mallard Fillmore comic collection to read. Now for the fun stuff.

On Friday we packed up my van and went up to camp. About halfway up we went to the outlet mall where I purchased about $50 worth of discounted goldfish crackers, all with varying flavors. Some were manufacturer's defects, some were past sell by, some were well beyond expiration, but I've been eating outletmall goldfish for years, so I don't care. I do remember one time Mom baught goldfish on sale from a regular grocery store when I was younger, and they were amazing. After hours of driving, we arrive at our motel. We pulled out all our stuff and settled in for later that night. Now for something interesting. On Monday I went to the doctor with some pain in my ear. I needed some medication, and got my throat swabbed for strep, because as my doctor said "your throat is supposed to be the color of pork, yours is the color of beef." Turns out I had strep, and needed anti-biotic. Well, I'm hundreds of miles from my home pharmacy, and it can't wait. So, I look up where a pharmacy is, and lucky for me there's a RiteAid in the local town. My doctor faxes my script to the RiteAid and I pick it up after it gets filled, hundreds of miles from home. Technology sure is impressive.

Now that I got my medicine, it's time for camp fun. We parked our car on my godfather's site. Fridays are easy going, just set-up camp. I said my hellos and enjoyed the fun. For dinner I had a pre-cooked hamburger and a hotdog. My 8 year old godbrother saw what I was eating and asked his mom "why is he having a hamburger AND a brat?" and she answered "because he's big and wants both." It was true. After diner I helped make the group's fire. Being an Eagle Scout, I know a thing or 2 on building a fire. I was able to build it well, though I ended up burning myself on grill grate that our friend installed to cook on. A burn that's still on my wrist a week after the incident. I didn't have it on there long, but it did take me a little bit to realize it, so I don't know if I'm permanently branded or not. Oh well. I did show it to the little kids to say "this is why you need to be careful around the fire." I had a smore and enjoyed being with friends I grew up with and watched me grow up. One of them wanted to open a bottle of beer but didn't have a bottle opener. I made sure to bring my multi-tool pocket knife for situations like this. Around 11 PM we left back to our motel. I watched some youtube videos and fell asleep.

Now it's Saturday, and we're ready for some fun. I had my normal muffin breakfast. It was just some good visiting with everyone. I wasn't able to go in the lake, but I did sit on the beach reading my Mallard Fillmore book. Oh man, like a fine wine, Mallard Fillmore got better with age. All of the jokes are more relevant today than they were in 1995. I also sat there snacking on sunflower seeds, because that's something I have to do when camping. I love sunflower seeds, but the worst part is finding some place to spit the shells. When you're outside though, you can just spit wherever. When I go camping, you know where I sat, because I'll have a nice scatter of shells on the ground. My 3 year old godbrother asked if he could try one, and I know his parents wouldn't want him chain munching them like me, but I also know he lacked the coordination to eat them without getting shell splinters (not dangerous or anything, just annoying pokes). I've found that wtih really young children, it's best to let them try 1 seed and find out for themselves "this hurts, I don't like this" than try to explain "no, you're too little." I also watched the 3 year old for an hour while his parents ran an errand.

After my godfather and his wife finished their errand, my dad and I went to the town just to see if there was an event going on. Many years there has been a little art fair happening when we went camping, and it was a fun thing to do. There wasn't anything this year, so we just went to the St. Vincent DePaul thrift store. I must say, this was some pretty high quality thrift junk. Dad found a china set with plates that were worth $15 each for like $2 sticker. If we lived closer, we would have tried eBay with them. I found some games; DDR Disney Channel for PS2, Urbz for PS2, and Toy Story Action Player for Windows 3.1/95/and higher. I had it as a kid, but it didn't play well on our computer back in the day. I decided I was going to try it out on my Windows 10 computer. Unfortunately it won't work since it's a 16 bit program and I have 64 bit Win10, but I'll hopefully find proper emulation. I mean, I have DOSbox, and I know windows 3.1 can be booted in DOS, so I can hopefully find a way to make it work. Whatever.

After exploring town, we went back to camp and just hung out. One of the 1st generation adults talked about how it all started and the kind of fun they had. All of them were about my age when they met and started this. It's kind of crazy. Since many of us 2nd generation are adults, the stories are now a little more...mature. However, since some of the 2nd generation are little kids, they can't get too mature. One funny thing they told us was when one of the 1st generation had "too much juice." Soon it came to dinner time. Back when they started, Saturday night was steak night, which evolved to catered chicken night when the 1st generation started having kids, which turned into pizza night when the 1st generation decided they didn't want to go through the hassle of catering chicken. Since my family set-up how we were going to order, we went to pick it up. The order wasn't quite ready when we went to pick-up, so I got to watch an episode of The Loud House on the restaurant TV. It was lucky for me that they had a channel that I liked on. We picked up everyone's pizza order, packed it up in the van, and went back to camp. It was good.

Now for the fun part. Every year since the start we've taken a group photo. We added in "generation pictures" (adults and kids, with the whole group) when everyone started having kids. This year after 27 years, we added "3rd generation" and "retired" pictures since now one of the "original kids" had their own kid and one of the 1st generation is retired. Oh it's fun watching how we all change. We had another camp fire, but only after going to the local ice cream stand. Every year we walk up to the ice cream stand that's about a quarter mile from the camp ground. This was really funny. One of the younger girls (10 years old) wanted to ride her rip stick down the hill we were on, and her parents said "no, it's too steep, you're going to get hurt." About 5 minutes later, her 2 oldest brothers (19 and 16) come zooming down the hill on their rip sticks. After that, her dad said "OK go ahead, we're not that far up now anyways." At the ice cream stand, I had tripple peanut butter cup; peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter ribbons, and mini-peanut butter cups. We had some fun hanging out eating ice cream. Once ice cream was over we went back to camp and had our fire. Again, around 11 PM we left for our motel.

Now it's Sunday. My family packed up our motel room and went to church. All of us our Catholic, so every year we go to this church up there. We take up the same 3 rows in the back. It's right by the cry room. It's kind of funny how much room all of us take up. After mass half of the group went out to breakfast, and the other half just made a bunch of left overs. My family was planning to eat something on the road, but we had left overs so we contributed to the group "lets make left overs" breakfast. After breakfast we went home. We stopped at a different outlet mall, but there weren't any stores I was interested in, though Mom got something I think.

All in all it was a good little vacation. It's great seeing everyone again. And here's a little something I took for SurfersSelfies #vidmewashere initiative. Well, this has been Pokematic, signing off, and bu-bye.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Attempting a World Record at Chuck E Cheese

Hey everyone, so I'm a fan of Guinness World Records. I have been since...3rd grade; maybe it was 2nd grade. I think it was 2nd grade when my friend and I tried to break "longest paper airplane flight" on a windy day throwing paper airplanes off the play structure in the after school program, and 3rd grade when I got my first Guinness Book of World Records. I also remember going to the Guinness World Record museum at Niagara Falls and spending 2 hours in it reading every record back in 8th grade, and trying to break "longest paper clip chain" after learning about it. I think I collected about 50 feet of paper clips, and the record was like half a mile. For my birthday I asked for paper clips, and I remember my aunt saying "I am NOT buying my nephew paper clips for a birthday present," so she got me a box of paper clips and a $20 gift card to Office Depot. Then I tried for "longest time wearing a plastic admission band" after I found I could wear one for a year. I contacted Guinness, and they said I would need to start over, but they sent me a sticker as well as some official rules for my next attempt. So yeah, I like World Records.

So, when I saw Chuck E Cheese was doing an attempt at "most people blowing party blowers at the same time for 10 seconds" as part of their 40th birthday celebration May 19th at 8:40 PM EST, I said "I need to do this." I made sure I would be able to participate if I didn't have a kid with me (adults need kids to be at Chuck E Cheese on normal days, but this wasn't a normal day), and if the answer was "you need a kid," I was making a list of everyone I knew that had kids. But for a world record attempt involving "most people doing...," you need as many people as possible so they allowed it.

After days of getting hyped, it was time for the big day. I got there at about 8 PM, because I wasn't going to miss this. I showed up, and saw it, a waver saying "by entering the premise you are agreeing to being filmed for the purpose of the official Guinness World Record attempt." I of course filmed it (I'm not going to NOT record my legitimate attempt at a world record), but just to be extra safe, I was careful to only film myself, adult staff, and world record objects. I'll get that edited and posted soon (hopefully); but for now I'll just post my story.

When I went in I went to the check-in stamp station and said "I'm here for the world record." He said "alright, you can have some cake (free as part of the event), we'll be getting ready at 8:25." I took a walk down memory lane for the 25 minutes leading up to the event. It's been like 8 years since I actually went there for fun (and 5 years since I stepped foot there when I applied for a summer job back in college), just looking at what's changed. The largest thing that changed was they now have "point cards" instead of tokens. I could exchange my tokens for points (I know I still have probably $5 worth somewhere), but I want to keep them for collecting/nostalgia purposes. There were different games, but I think I saw some original token roller games. That was cool. They also got rid of the play place. I guess it was because there's no money to be made from a free indoor play place. Oh well. I also talked to the front desk clerk some about all that's changed, and how I used to come here all the time and had an unlimited free refill cup I used for 7 years. He said I could bring it in and they'll still honor it (like 16 years later), but my cup disintegrated. After 7 years, it just kind of fell apart. I do remember a kid once asked me many years ago when I was refilling it "where'd I get my cool cup," and I said "4 years ago." When my mom bought my brother and I those cups, I don't think they were expecting someone to use it for 7 years.

So I had cake. I originally was planning to be a "responsible adult" and let the kids have it. However, there weren't any kids having it, and I wanted to join in the fun. It was plain sponge cake with sugar frosting. I considered buying an individual pizza, or bread sticks, just to see if the formula changed in the past decade; but I ate beforehand because I was expecting it to be very busy (world record geeks like me and parents with kids on a Friday night) and didn't want to risk waiting forever just for some nostalgic pizza, and 8 PM is late for me to eat. However, I probably could have ordered bread sticks without a problem as it was not very crowded (or at least not as crowded as I expected), but I wasn't hungry so whatever.

And then over the announcer, I hear it. "Attention Chuck E Cheese guests, come to the stage area to participate in the world record attempt" with Chuck E walking around to lead the kids to the area. I had to hold myself back from strait up joining "the peid mouse" as he lead the children to the world record attempt (because it's weird enough to have a 23 year old man at a children's arcade). So after 30 seconds, I head over to the area and see the official instructions for the world record attempt (for CEC team members). I read the instructions, and then went to get my numbered wrist band for the attempt. I was number 12. There was also a sheet to sign up to get notified if they break the record so I can buy a plaque (oh yeah, I signed up for it). It was kind of funny since they asked for your age, and among the 7-12 year olds, then there's me at 23. There was a group of pre-teens that looked like they were into this, and were there only for the attempt. They probably weren't as into it as I was, but give them 10 years and they would be as exited as I was. One of the older boys (probably 11) saw I was recording and asked if I was going to put it on youtube. I told him "probably." It won't be "youtube.com/catholiccontriverys," but it will be on the other platforms I use. There was also another loop of "peid Chuck E" and all the kids were chanting "Chuck E Cheese, Chuck E Cheese." I started chanting "World Record, World Record" softly. After everyone got their wrist bands, they handed out the party blowers and said "don't blow them until I say so."

And here it is, the main event. The CEC team member got everyone focused, get ready, and then told everyone to blow their party blowers for 10 seconds. I originally planned to blow for 10 strait seconds, but that didn't work out because I don't have that kind of lung capacity and control. So instead, I just kept rapidly inhaling and blowing. By the end I started feeling light headed from hyperventilating. It was fun. I was taking video, and the team members were also taking video. Afterwards they did a ticket give away, but that's for the kids. My party blower was a little defective (didn't buzz properly), so I asked the team member if I could have another one. She let me have one because everyone could tell I was really into the world record thing. I also saw 2 moms that didn't participate filling out the world record paper work, because for it to be official you need to have an impartial 3rd party sign that it happened. I knew this because that was the rules from when I tried to do "longest time wearing admission wrist band." I rested to "normal-ventilate" by sitting off in a corner away from the kids. After catching my head and realizing what just happened, I left the restaurant/arcade.

Oh man, that was fun. I estimate that there were probably 40 people participating. If I assume that to be average across all 590 locations, I think we're going to break the record. The current record at the time of writing 5/19/2017 11 PM, is 6,961 people back in 2009. If my assumptions are correct, that's 23,600 people. Even if it's just half, that's still about twice as many people as the current record. I sure hope we broke it. If we do break it, I'm definitely buying that plaque, as I will have actually accomplished a childhood and teen goal. When I tell some of my co-workers, they are going to say "of course you would do that, sounds fun." Even though I'm a professional, I'm going to wear my wrist band until I return Monday and use it as a conversation piece (and everyone knows I'm a little eccentric, and I'm such a good employee I can afford to be a tad unprofessional for a day). Oh this was fun. If it ends up in a book, I'm buying the book. This has been Pokematic, signing off, and bu-bye.