That Thermopolis Junket, Part 1

Another pointless vacation is in the books. I’m glad to say my trip to Wyoming inspired all sorts of great material for SB. I’ll be spending the better part of this week writing about it. So settle in, this entry is the first of one of those muliti-parter deals.

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Grab a snack or something.

As mentioned earlier, I have an an atrocious sleep schedule. This bit me in the ass in a big way on Friday. Late Thursday night I had everything packed and ready to go. I set an alarm to wake up at a reasonable time for what I expected to be an eight-hour trip to Riverton. However, a few minutes later I said to myself, “Nah. I don’t need an alarm. I’ll be OK.”

Next thing I know it’s 2:30 pm. Dammit!

After scrambling around the Command Center for a full half hour looking for my glasses (the cats hid them), I bolted out the door. Taking care of the standard going out of town tasks (i.e. gas, cash, Oberto Bacon Jerky, etc.) took another half hour. Oh yeah, I was looking at a late night.

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With only big buttes to keep me company.

The first half of the trip to Idaho Falls was uneventful. I’m very familiar with most of southern Idaho; directions to Idaho Falls weren’t necessary. However, I had never been east of Idaho Falls in this manner, so I printed out some Google directions beforehand. This is all fine and good, as the directions tell you what street to turn on. What they don’t tell you is what TOWN said street is located in. That would be helpful, Mr. Google, especially when in unfamiliar territory at twilight.

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As I found out later, the answer in this instance was “Swan Valley.”

Having missed the turn, and not realizing it until well over an hour later, I found myself traveling through areas not on the itinerary, such as Irwin, Palisades Dam and finally an unexpected entry into Wyoming at Alpine in Lincoln County, nearly 40 miles south of where I expected to be.

Palisades

Dammit.

As it turned out my detour cost me 30 minutes at most, but that was no comfort given I pulled into Jackson well after dark. Although it wasn’t THAT late, and Jackson is a fairly large city by Wyoming standards, I had difficulty finding an open store. This proved to be a recurring theme.

Immediately past Jackson is Grand Teton National Park. Being stupidly late I didn’t find this terribly interesting, especially considering I couldn’t see anything anyway. I found this even more annoying:

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The last thing I wanted to see.

Increasingly tired and in an unfamiliar area, by the time I exited Grand Teton I was ready for this drive to be freakin’ over. It was still well over 100 miles to Riverton, though. Driving across the Continental Divide at the snowbound-even-in-May Togwotee Pass is a challenge even in the best of conditions, but even worse when sleep deprived and attempting to pass a clearly confused motorist bearing Iowa license plates. Iowa not being known for its mountain passes, you know.

At 1:30 am I finally reached my destination, the extremely small and basic Riverton Motel 6. No one should be that glad to see a Motel 6. This day is OVER.

Continued tomorrow ….

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A Gift to Google

SB has been around for nearly three months. In that time I’ve managed to cover nearly 1,300 topics in over 70 posts and probably in the neighborhood of 10,000 words, the size of a short book. Naturally, that’s caused some disparate search engine traffic. Today I want to share the highlights of those searches with you. For one, it’s funny. For another, it’s yet another lazy-ass way to put a post together.

These findings are based on Google searches, as Bing and the others didn’t have a lot of material to work with. I know many of you were looking for something other than a silly-ass blog from Idaho, so I’m trying to help out with some facts about the topics you really want to read about. I’ve already covered SB’s top search query, “gr8tits2play,” several times. I’m not going to discuss that further today.

Main Street Guitar Company

Despite being mentioned a grand total of once here before today, SB appears as the third link in a Google search for this term. That tells me there’s not a whole hell of a lot of information on this company.

It appears Main Street Guitar Company is (or more likely, was) based in Cedar City, Utah, of all places. The company has no web site, and every indication is the Cedar City location is no longer in business. As for my Main Street bass, it was made in China. I can tell because the sticker on the back of the headstock clearly says so.

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My phone battery is charging. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this one.

As for the quality, I can tell you I paid well under $100 for my instrument used. Glean from that what you will.

Feodor I

History Wednesday’s top contribution to Google appears to be its account of the hapless 16th Century Russian czar. SB makes a first-page appearance for the term, ahead of entries from such august scholastic organizations such as, um, Answers.com.

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Feodor would be 455 years old if he were alive today. How about that?

As for Feodor’s much better-known father, Ivan the Terrible … yeah. I have my SEO work cut out for me on that one.

Honey Boo Boo

Uh oh. Google’s webmaster tools tell me SB has an average search rank of 11th for this train wreck. Thankfully, an actual search proves this isn’t the case. Google doesn’t even have me in the first 10 pages …

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… yet. Oh, this could get ugly.
Image credit: ~AngryDogDesigns

My Favorite Search Terms

Of course, not all the search terms that stick around here have any staying power. Many are simply hilarious, such as:

“desirable outcome carnival cruise triumph”
“when did a trading post at moose factory get stupid”
“has anybody really thought about the logistics to the movie air bud”
“strom thurmond takes a dump”
“do cats try crap on astro turf”
“ghaddafi leisure suit”
“what in the hell is going on at idaho state university”

“The last time I saw people covered in that much feces they were touring the White House with Al Roker!”

Beautiful. Keep it up, y’all.

Oh yeah, for fans of SEO, “gr8tits2play.” Ha, ha!

Bits for Vanity

There are two types of people in this world: people who occasionally Google themselves, and damn liars. Last night I felt that self-congratulatory urge.

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Wait, Myspace is still around?

I’ve been on the Internet for some time. It’ll be 20 years in October as a matter of fact. As a result there’s a lot miscellaneous electronic flotsam related to me. For example, a Google search might lead you to incorrectly assume I’m still an insurance agent or even running for Governor of Idaho. Sadly, neither has been the case for years. You might also notice I edited a book many moons ago. That remains true.

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Pictured: Hardcore writer’s narcissism.

I admit I have an easier time finding information about myself on Google than some. “Lane Startin” is a fairly distinctive name, much more so than, say, a “John Smith” or a “Jennifer Jones.” That means I can reasonably assume anything that turns up is about me.

Which makes results such as this all the more perplexing:

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Flabbergasting.

I suppose when and if this blog becomes an integral part of society they’ll let me have a Wikipedia article again. But knowing Wikipedia as I do, probably not.

More Facebook Crap

Hey! Did you know SB’s staff cats Djoser and Sneferu have Facebook pages now? Click on their names to “like” them. They’ll be eternally grateful, I think ….

Oh yeah, I have a Facebook page to “like” as well. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

Friday Crap Roundup IX

It’s Friday and I’m in the 2T again. Beachy has one of those teacher inservice days, so I had to interrupt her Smosh and Fred Figglehorn habit to write today’s FCR. Believe me, that’s not an easy task. Once I’m done I get to take her to Hop 2 It. Oh joy. At least she’s paying her own way this time ….

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NOTICE: FATHER CARRIES NO CASH
Image credit: Channel R

But First, A Shameless Plug

I’ve known Travis Hill since we were in fifth grade or something like that. He’s into hockey, writing and snark, just like me. If you enjoy SB, I venture to guess you’ll like his stuff too. You can find it here, here and here.

He doesn’t know I’m doing this, and when he finds out he’ll probably have some off-color remark for me. That’s part of his charm.

Speaking of Remarks …

SB got its first real comment in well over a month earlier this week. Feel free to comment at this site, you slackers. Constantly deleting Engrish spam hawking fake Air Jordans gets old after a few weeks.

Anyway, commenting on “Messing With Spammers,” Ray told SB he also encountered the infamous “gr8tits2play.” He wrote in part:

How can I report this user? That ISP address or whatever. Oh well my only option is to report it on Fling and hopefully they will warn others. I didn’t sign up for the other site because I couldn’t find her user name, so I Googled – you guessed it – gr8tits2play. should I respond back with something, or don’t reply?

(Ed note: link NSFW)

Good questions, Ray. You did the right thing by reporting the account to Fling and by NOT signing up to “her” site. The dating site is probably not going to “warn others,” but it should delete the offending account with extreme prejudice. I imagine they’ve already done so as of this writing. I don’t recommend responding unless you’re going to troll them like I do. That just invites more spam.

As for tracking where the e-mail came from, what I do is find the originating IP address in the e-mail source. A “View Source” option should be available in e-mail clients such as Thunderbird and Outlook. Finding the source in web-based e-mail, such as Hotmail, can be problematic.

The source consists of a bunch of computer gobbledygook. What you want is something that looks like “Received: from [1.2.3.4].” The numbers in the brackets are the IP address. There may be several lines like this; the one you want is usually the last one.

Once you have the IP, do a search on an IP lookup site such as IP2Location. The result should tell you where the IP originates and what ISP it’s registered with. This doesn’t work every time, but it’s the best way I know of to track an e-mail’s origin. If someone out there knows a better way, please share with the class.

Of course this only works with an actual e-mail. If all you have is the communication on Fling (or wherever), you’re not going to be able to track the original IP, although the site admins can if they so choose.

By the way, if you do troll them let me know. Definitely share if it nets you hilarious results.

My Message in Your Modem

SB reached an auspicious milestone earlier today. All you Rush fans out there should appreciate this:

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And the geeks shall inherit the earth.

Let’s Network … Or Something

Hey! Now you can “like” me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. The Mayor of Boise, members of the Idaho Legislature, and the Idaho Statesman all follow me. Why not you?

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In other words, the city knows my every move.

Oh yeah, for what it’s worth I have a Pinterest account too. I don’t use that much, though.

Track of the Week

I like me some trance, y’all.

We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Resetting the Circadian Rhythm

For years my sleep schedule has been off. Every few months or so, it gets so FUBAR I find it difficult to function during daylight hours in any capacity. I’ve found the best remedy for this is to stay up all night and as much as possible the next day, completing tasks as I go. When I was in college I occasionally extended these “reset” sessions to 60 hours, but I can’t do that anymore.

Well, the time has come to make it happen. Again. My agenda before any thought of sleep is as follows:

– Take care of the daily SB post. If you’re reading this, check.
– Stay up until at least 11 am.
– Call the paramedics and answer their questions about my head injury.
– Pick up a prescription and get some stuff at the supermarket.

That’s it. It may not sound like much, and frankly it isn’t. But when you’re bipolar and on the down side like I am right now, it’s a busy day. I don’t want to let any of this go until Tuesday, y’all. If I let myself sleep until 5 pm again, it probably will.

With that in mind, here’s the timeline of the previous night … and the day. Yup, this entry is going to be even more stream of consciousness than usual.

12:52 am

Caffeine plays a major role in these resets. I have some Cherry Coke, but soda doesn’t really do the job. Nope, this calls for a hot caffeinated drink, and lots of it. My caffeine of choice for a situation like this is Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend coffee.

Unfortunately, I’m out of Peet’s. The only coffee I have in the Command Center at the moment is a contemptuously cheap, obnoxiously bitter store brand “100% Colombian” blend I unwisely bought a couple years ago. Juan Valdez’s goat wouldn’t touch this stuff.

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And it’s seriously expired too. Score.

Well, I guess I’d better try tea. I know I have some of that around here somewhere ….

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Dammit.

Next attempt, an unopened box of Fred Meyer Tea Bags. The date stamp was very faint, too faint to photograph. I think it said … “BESTBY AUG2606.” Holy shit, I haven’t even been on my own that long. That’s bad even by my standards.

One more shot: the Red Rose Earl Grey.

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Qapla’!

A truly embarrassing trip to Jackson’s avoided, I press on.

2:27 am

On my third cup of Earl Grey, I began playing Civilization IV: Warlords, which is a great way to kill a few hours. With my Pandora app up, it’s time for some empire-building. Yes, I’m well aware there’s a Civilization V and has been for several years. I’m not much of a gamer.

7:24 am

Wow, that worked better than I expected. These Civ IV games eat up time, but rarely last five freakin’ hours. I won. Then again, I always play on the easiest setting because I’m a wanker like that. Ha ha.

Mao

Chairman Mao thought he could take me on. He was very sorely mistaken.

Time to change the Pandora station. The likes of Yes, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd – as much as I dig them – are getting old. Some Erasure perhaps? Nah, too poppy for my current state of mind. Gabriel & Dresden it is.

7:39 am

Contact lenses aren’t meant to be worn for this long, at least as not as far as I’m concerned. Switched to glasses. Also changed underwear. I’m not incontinent or anything; it’s just those damn chafing waistbands ….

8:29 am

The paramedic office has been contacted. I’m glad that’s out of the way.

10:02 am

I’d say I’m about seven cups of tea into things at this point. I started coming down with a headache and a sore throat, so I took some ibuprofen to knock that out. It seems to be working. In the meantime I verified this site with Google, Bing, Pinterest and Alexa. I really don’t get the appeal of Pinterest, but whatever.

10:36 am

Went downstairs to check the mail and take out the trash. I figured this would be a good time to see if there was anything else expired in the kitchen. Turns out there was. To wit, cappuccino mix, microwave popcorn, rice, Pasta Roni, a loaf of bread, horseradish, three cans of soup, two bottles of pancake syrup, mini ravioli, peas, olive oil, garlic pepper, Italian herb seasoning … and a can of spicy Indian poppadum chips. Yeah, buddy.

Saltmill

Apparently salt doesn’t go bad. That’s probably just as well.

11:40 am

Just read Margaret Thatcher died. In recognition I’ve been watching old Spitting Image clips.

Why can’t they import this concept from the UK instead of crap like American Idol?

1:07 pm

The day’s stated agenda is complete. As an added bonus I changed the cat box and did the dishes. My supply of Peet’s is replenished, so I can dispense with the Jean-Luc Picard schtick.

Although it’s rather crisp outside, for the first time this year I saw noticeable leaves on the neighborhood deciduous trees. The HOA also had the sprinklers going. That was a nice way to end things for the day. I’m going to try to stay up a few more hours, but I daresay mission accomplished.

I just hope I don’t have to do this again for awhile.

More Embarrassing 80s Videos

A little over a month ago I wrote about a couple video relics from the 80s which stuck with me over the years. As a writer I find this is a pretty good well to go back to. If my site stats are any indication, you agree. So here we are again.

If you know what the image below is, this will all be review. As for the rest of you, prepare for an education.

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No fair Googling or using Tineye.

You Can’t Beat Our Meat

I had the “honor” of working at the Wendy’s in the 2T in 1991. Before I say anything else, let me assure from personal experience that this is 100 percent REAL.

As those of you who have worked fast food know – which I assume is damn near all of you – the job sucks. It’s sweaty. It’s greasy. You don’t get enough hours to qualify for benefits, and you have to wear the same goddamn shirt every day. You’re also controlled by corporate shills who just don’t understand the “younger scene.”

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“But, but, everybody loves Justin Bieber!”

And no, I didn’t live in the “good old days.” Consider this 1989 training video on “grill skills,” which I was instructed with in those dark days. It’s a bit slow at times. I’m posting only the second half, but stick with it and bathe in its innate cheesiness. The first half features a lot of the late Dave Thomas blathering about your “important job” in a curious accent. If you really want to watch that, it’s here.

Who’s up for chili?

Check out the rap and country rock excellence here. It’s somewhere between Biz Markie and, um, Billy Ray Cyrus or something. Incidentally, they had me wearing the exact same teal shirt featured, unfortunately without the glitter.

I was so glad when I got to leave and go to Idaho State later that year. You have no idea.

Canoe, Canoe?

Oh man, every time this spot appeared on MTV I cringed. Just cringed. Even though at the time I had no chance whatsoever of dating a hot chick – and if I somehow managed to succeed I would have blown a gasket – I knew this was just … wrong. If you kids think the marketing for Axe is over the top (and you’d be correct), you should have seen what it was like a generation ago.

So from the same pheromone experts who brought you such venerable female magnets as English Leather and British Sterling, Canoe allows you to talk to hotties familiar with international maritime signal flags, and smell like you raided a 10-year-old’s Christmas stocking in the process.

“We now return to Julius Caesar on an Aldis Lamp.”

I don’t know about you, but to this day I’m pretty sure if the first words out of my mouth in any singles setting were, “Oh! Canoe canoe?” a restraining order wouldn’t be too far behind. Afterwards, every once in a great while MTV would redeem itself by giving me a glimpse of the mystery girl in the Smiths’ “How Soon is Now?” video, but usually this crap was followed by more crap like Night Ranger.

The Proto-King of Cars

OK, this never aired nationally per se, but the basic concept plagued several media markets throughout the country in the 80s. The 2T was one of them. As a matter of fact, this guy like the 2T so much he actually moved there from somewhere back east later in his career. I want to say he was originally based in upstate New York, but I’m not 100 percent certain about that.

Anyway, meet Dave Campo, the undisputed master of local used car ads. In the 2T he worked for an outfit called Latham Motors, which was at the time the local Chrysler dealership. Sadly I was unable to find any Campo-era Latham Motors ads, but in his heyday his modus operandi was the same for all his clients. Take a look:

“With all the candy!”

Campo made what the industry calls a “shitload” of ads during his career, easily over 1,000. To this day anyone who lived in the 2T while he was active can recite the basic ad structure word for word, myself included. Campo died a few years ago. His favorite client Latham Motors went under at around the same time. Yet his legacy lives on in loudmouth used car TV spots to this day.

Is the US a lucky nation or what?

Friday Crap Roundup V

Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen! It’s time once again for the Friday Crap Roundup! Now 30 percent dafter for your reading enjoyment!

Breaking Precedent, Rome Style

Earlier this week I opined on papal names and how they rarely deviate from accepted standards. Only six names had been used by popes since 1800. Well, make it seven thanks to Pope Francis. Now while he didn’t take my advice and go with something screwy, he broke a very longstanding precedent anyway. I like that sort of thing in religious leaders. As a matter of fact one has to go all the way back to 913 CE to find the last pope who chose a name never used by any of his predecessors.

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That’s right. Pope Lando.

And so with the conclave over I don’t expect to mention the papacy again for the foreseeable future. All the best to you guys out there in the Vatican.

Ignoring Precedent, Tulsa Style

Speaking of precedent, someone should explain the concept of judicial review to this guy, who actually said:

Just because the Supreme Court rules on something doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s constitutional …. I hear this all the time from Republicans – they say that the court is the arbitrator and after the arbitration is done, that’s the rules we have to live under and we can go forth and make legislation given those rules. That’s not the case.

Yeah, apparently he hasn’t heard of cases like Marbury v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, and so forth. Judicial review, that is the prerogative of the court system to strike down unconstitutional laws, has been a central tenet of the American judicial system since, oh, 1803 or so. But you don’t need me to tell you that; anyone who paid attention in high school government class can tell you that.

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“And tell ’em the Big Marsh Man sent you!”

Well, apparently Jim Bridenstine wasn’t paying attention. Unfortunately, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives last year from the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area. C’mon, you guys. Politics is stupid enough without willfully electing this sort of cement-headedness.

Setting Precedent, Boise Style

Recently I wrote of my adventures (if you really want to call them that) with a mysterious person who may or may not be a woman known as “gr8tits2play.” Well, less than a week later, when one does a Google search for that name guess who comes up, like, a lot?

gr8tits2play search

Oh, lovely.

I suppose it’s in the common interest for me to inform you I’m not “gr8tits2play,” I don’t have a dead uncle in Mali with a fortune I need to smuggle into the United States, I’m not a representative of the lottery in the UK or anywhere else, and I have no problems whatsoever with penis size.

TMI? Fine, let’s move on.

Track of the Week

It’s been one of those weeks, but I hope to finish strong. I need to. Beachy will be here tonight.

In the meantime, play this over and over.