Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Friday, May 30, 2008

Blogging Blues

I've fallen behind in reading and posting. It happens when I get happy.

Posted by Rich
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Bonnaroo

I went last year and posted about it(Starting here). Apparently those posts are showing upon search engines because I'm getting a bunch of new comments, most of which object to the fact that I cast the experience in a less than favorable light.

Sorry folks, I just call it like I see it.

If you don't want to go back and read through all the posts, here's a brief summary:

I heard a lot of music I liked, and listened to acts I'd never heard of, but the aggravations of the festival outweighed the fun in my opinion. Getting in to the campground was a nightmare, and each entry into the festival grounds was an adventure in randomness. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy camping. I've got a nice setup with most of the comforts of home, but the quality of a campout is determined more by the people you are camping with than the equipment you use, and the Bonnaroo crowd contains too many of the people who can make camping miserable.

All in all, while I probably won't go back again, I'm glad I went. I met some very interesting folks, hung out with a crowd about as different from me as you can get, got a nice hat, and heard some great music. I want to find a different festival, maybe a bluegrass festival, and go to it.

Anyway,for those of you heading out to Bonnaroo, here is a collection of tips to make your experience more enjoyable.
  • Come early, come late, it doesn't seem to matter much as far as the wait to get in to the campground goes.

  • There are very specific rules on what you can and can't bring with you and the type of shelters you can use. They are available well in advance of the event. Ignore them; the folks searching your vehicle do.

  • You will have a very limited amount of space to set up your campsite, roughly 100 square feet plus your vehicle. An 8' by 8' tent will take up most of it. Plan accordingly.

  • Prices are high as you might expect. Make sure to bring everything you need.

  • Bring extra ice.

  • If you bring an extra stick of butter, you may be offered a lap dance.

  • Plan on drinking roughly a gallon of fluids a day. This does not include alcohol or soda

  • Bring your own toilet paper.

  • Showers are $10. A solar shower from WalMart is $6. You do the math.

    • You will want to take a shower.

    • Your neighbors will want you to take a shower.

    • You will want your neighbors to shower.

  • The three most vital things to bring besides lots of water are

    • A hat. Keep the sun off of your head and you'll stay cooler.

    • Sunglasses

    • Sunblock

  • Traffic getting into the site is a nightmare so make sure you have plenty of gas to get in, and back out again.

  • Cell phone service is available, but spotty. Encourage your family to send text messages instead. They get through easier.

  • Plan ahead. Use your schedule to pick the acts you really want to see. Fill in the gaps with shopping, eating, or hearing an act you've never heard of. Challenge yourself.

  • Be careful what you bring in to the venue. Just because they let you bring it in yesterday doesn't mean they'll let you in today.

  • If you get turned away from one gate, try another.

  • Take your time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You've got three more days of this ahead of you.

  • Try food you've never had before. Yeah, it's a little pricey, but it's nowhere near as bad as Disneyland.

  • If you're turned away from the gate for carrying something you shouldn't, try another gate. (Yes, I mentioned this twice. It's important.)

  • Get to know the folks camping near you. You're neighbors for the next 96 hours; you might as well be friendly.

  • Drink plenty of water before you leave your campsite, and keep drinking it while you're at the venue. Bonnaroo provides free water stations, or you can spend $2.50 for a bottle.

  • Bring a beach chair or something else to sit on. A three hour show feels a lot longer when you're sitting on the hard ground

  • Arrive extra early to the venue of your choice. The main stage is surrounded by a huge field, and if you don't get there fairly early for the popular acts, you might be better off just watching MTV from the comfort of your couch at home. The other stages and tents are a little easier, but getting there 15 minutes early makes a huge difference in where you sit.

  • Do not expect the rules to remain consistent. Just because you were allowed in one day with a camera, don't assume you will be allowed in the next day. Or the next hour.

  • Allow extra time to get into the gates. Sometimes you won't need it, but most times, you will.

  • If you're running your campsite off of an inverter wired to your car battery, start your car every couple of hours or so and let it run for 10 minutes.

  • The number one tool for Friday (Day 2) is patience.

  • Saturday, the venue is packed. Be prepared for large crowds and nowhere to sit. Hot, tired, and cranky 'Rooers will be sitting everywhere they can find the least bit of shade.

  • Eating on site can be challenging on Saturday since there are, as I just mentioned, not many places to sit. A few dozen picnic benches would go a long way towards improving conditions in Centeroo.

  • Flexibility is the watchword for Saturday. The large crowds make it certain you will miss something you wanted to see.

  • To avoid waiting in long lines to get into the venue, here are two helpful hints.

    • First, avoid the main entrance like the plague.

    • Second, and this will seem counterintuitive, don't go early. Get to the gate with just enough time to make your show. The reason is simple; everybody else will be doing the same thing and a huge crowd will develop. Health and safety concerns will force security to speed up the inspection process, resulting in a line that moves about as fast as you can walk.

  • Be prepared for the weather to change. Temperatures Saturday night dipped into the high 50's or low 60's which is very chilly unless you have a decent sleeping bag. Or a decent sleeping partner.

  • When going to a show at one of the main stages, you have two options.

    • You can get there several hours early and fight your way through the crowds to get somewhat close to the stage, then stand up for 5 hours straight.

    • Or you can get there 10-15 minutes before the show, set up a beach chair and sit back under the stars and listen to the band play live.

  • The night and evening shows are much more pleasant than the day shows. They are also more popular. Plan accordingly.

  • My number one activity was people watching. We humans are a strange breed of critter, and you can see all of our strangeness on parade at Bonnaroo. When you're trapped in a crowd trying to get in or out of the venue or a show, watch people to pass the time.

  • Most of the people working the event are volunteers, working for free or reduced admission to the show. They aren't paid, and they have zero power to change the way things are done, so cut them some slack.

  • There are security patrols on horseback throughout the campground and at every gate. 4 legs are faster than 2 legs, and a half ton of horse beats 200 pounds of inebriated a**hole every time. But go on, challenge the mounted patrols. That's entertainment for the 300 people trapped in line waiting to get in.

  • Bring ear plugs. Not for the shows, but for the inconsiderate folks back in the campground who want to blast disco remixes of Pink Floyd at 4AM.


Well,I hope this list helps somebody, and I hope you all have fun in Manchester. As for me, I'll be sitting on a beach in Florida, watching the waves roll in.

We will all have fun.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thoughts on the Democrat Convention

I envy Mr. Neal.

I think he's got a ringside seat at what is sure to be the greatest show on earth. It's going to be so much fun that Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey are going to have to look for a new slogan. There are times when the hyperbole is overused and other times when it is warranted, and this will be one of the latter times.

I mean, look at it. You've got a white woman running against a black man for the Democratic nomination for President in a year when the Democrats have a good shot at winning it. This would be exciting even if Hillary wasn't the female candidate. Adding in the Clinton factor is frosting on the cake. To make things even more fun, Sens. Clinton and Obama mix as well as Mentos and Diet Coke, frothy and explosive when combined.

And let's not forget the delegates from Florida and Michigan, although Obama might want to. Hillary's efforts to get them seated are sure to cause quite a ruckus. And last but not least, we've got the super delegates, who will rush in at the last minute to save the day.

Or something like that.

All in all, it should be a lot of fun to watch. My guess is that in the end, Hillary will win the nomination. Since a majority of Democrats want her to stay in the race, that can only mean that either some primary voters for Obama have changed their minds, or that the primary voters are not representing the true face of the Democrat party. In either case,look for Hillary to play this up at the convention, as well as the fact that she fares better against McCain in swing states that Dems must pick up in order to win in November.

If it comes down to a choice between honoring the majority of the primary voters and winning in November,which way will the convention go?

Like I said, it's going to be lots of fun to watch.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Election Prediction

McCain wins the Presidency, Dems win 60+ in Senate, and strengthen their majority in the House.

Posted by Rich
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Very Interesting Map

I'm predicting fireworks at the Democrat Convention, based on this map.

If you run the numbers, if the election were held today, McCain easily beats Obama, and Clinton easily beats McCain.

I'm sure that the leadership of the DNC, Howard Dean excepted, are just as capable of running the numbers, so what will they do in June? Will they encourage the delegates to follow the will of the voters and hand the election to McCain in November, or will they override the voices of their constituents to field a viable candidate?

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Present, But Not Voting

No,this isn't a slam on Obama. Instead, it's more a description of my own feelings about the election process.

It's hard for me to get excited about exercising my right to vote, given the three stooges we have running for President right now. (Apologies to Larry, Curly, and Moe. These clowns couldn't even pass for Shemp, Joe or Curly Joe. Well, maybe Curly Joe.) McCain is wrong on everything with the exception of national defense, where he's at least half right. He believes we should defend our national interests, except for our borders, which is kind of strange. Obama is wrong on everything, which is an interesting achievement since he has utterly failed to articulate a a detailed position on anything. And Hillary, well, she's still Hillary.

How did we get here? Are these three really the best we can do? This is the land of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Washington, and Jefferson. Bold men, with vision, who made decisions without focus groups and polling data, who said what they meant, without equivocation or reservation. Where are they now?

The answer is telling; the sad fact is that if one of those giants ran for President today, he wouldn't make it out of the primaries. (Except maybe for Lincoln. He was exceptionally good at tailoring his message to the people he was talking to. As his rival for the Senate seat, Stephen "the Little Giant" Douglas once said, "When I debate you in the north, you're white; in the south, you're black.") Men of principle still exist, so why don't we see them in national politics?

The answer is that it isn't the quality of the candidates that have changed, it is the quality of the electorate that has changed. Today, we blindly accept the idea that the only qualification to vote are a pulse lasting longer than 18 years. A natural born US citizen has no knowledge requirements in order to vote. He doesn't have to know anything about the issues. He doesn't have to know how our government works. Heck, he doesn't even have to know how to read and write. If he's illiterate, we will supply somebody to read the ballot for him. He can be as useless as male nipples, as ignorant as a newborn, and as lazy as an old dog on a summer day, and his vote counts just as much as the most rabid policy wonk.

Think about that for a minute. Can you think of any other area of endeavor where we allow the ignorant and apathetic equal say with the engaged and informed? Would you let the typical voter decide what car you should by? Would you let him dictate your medical care? How about your investment choices? Or in each of the above examples, would you rather trust the opinion of an expert? Somebody who has a wealth of knowledge about the subject, and who has demonstrated at least a basic competency?

But when it comes to selecting a government that can affect all of these choices and more, we'll give the same worth to Otis Campbell's choice as to Andy Taylor's. I don't care how you slice it folks, that just doesn't make sense.

And when you look back at American history, you find out that the folks who wrote our Constitution agreed with me. They established requirements for voting, some fair,and some a product of the times. In order to vote, and even more importantly to hold office, you had to be a productive member of society. Government salaries were kept low to make sure that nobody sought office for financial gain. Additionally, in order to hod office,you had to be able to afford to take a pay cut which meant that you were not only successful in your field, but financially astute enough to build up wealth in the form of savings.

In essence, the poll tax ensured that the folks exercising the franchise had a vested interest in good governance, and the low salaries ensured that the men running for office were capble individuals in their fields.

Fast forward 200+ years and what do we have? A warm body electorate voting in their own interests, not in the interests of the nation as a whole. Special interest groups rule Washington DC, and votes are for sale.

And they're usually sold cheap.

Maybe it's time we recognize that the franchise is too important to be taken for granted. Maybe it shouldn't be tossed out as freely as beads at Mardi Gras. Maybe, just maybe, voting should be something we earn through demonstrated competence, or by having a net positive effect on America, rather than being a drain.

When you look at the difference in the quality of our elected officials from then and now., can you honestly say that we are better off now with an unrestricted electorate?

I can't.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, May 05, 2008

Last Week’s Answer

For anyone who didn't get it, the solution for last week's puzzle was Six Pack. I'm going to do something different this week, but you'll have to wait for Wednesday to see what it is.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Iron Man

8.5 out of 10

My thoughts:

Iron Man rocks. The story works; the acting is excellent; the effects are spot on.

Robert Downey Jr does a great job at bringing the flawed genius to life, taking him from playboy to hero without caricature and Gwyneth Paltrow makes Pepper Potts stand out as more than just a hero sidekick. Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane is passable, but I was a bit disappointed with Terrence Howard's Jim Rhodes. He seemed too bland.

I was a little bit surprised they let the origin story run for fully half the movie; it never seemed to drag, but it did make the second half of the movie feel a little rushed.

While some reviewers are saying that the movie makes it seem like America is responsible for all the wars in the world, I didn't see that at all.

The special effects were excellent. The blend between model and CGI was nearly seamless as far as I could see.

We went to see it at the Millertown Cinema by Knoxville Center Mall. The 10:05 showing was nearly empty.

The Samuel L Jackson cameo was perfect,and sets up the sequel,as well as an eventual Avengers movie.

Posted by Rich
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Chris Lofton:  My Hero

No excuses.

No whining.

He just continued to do the best he could, playing as hard as he could.

How many of us could live up to that kind of example?

Posted by Rich
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Misplaced Priorities

So, let me get this straight.

We want to make strip clubs illegal, but we're ok with strip mines?

Posted by Rich
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Friday, May 02, 2008

BlogFest !

blog.jpg

VS Knoxville is a gaming center in downtown, and they're holding a blog party from 7-9 on Saturday May 10th. The Sunsphere is Not a Wig Shop provides a review.

If you're into gaming at all, here's a place where you can play to your heart's content and still be social.

Check it out!

Posted by Rich
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Name That Movie 3: Final Friday

A couple of people have said they already know what the movie is, so I'm just going to post this and see how fast they get the answer up.

Final Clue: This movie was Farmer Ted's debut.

UPDATE:
Guest Clue: A player who knows the answer has given the following clue: This movie had its World Premiere in Knoxville as part of the World's Fair

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Thursday Answer

Congratulations to Lissa Kay of Oh...Really? who answered correctly that the actress was Diane Lane.

I think they must share a shoe fetish.

In comments, several people have said they already know the movie in question,which was a danger of the design of this contest, so I'l have to use a different approach next week.

Posted by Rich
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Name the Movie 3:  Thursday’s First Clue

This daughter of a Playboy centerfold has a thing for fancy footwear.

Posted by Rich
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