From the Top Of The Hill

My butt's planted back in Lincoln. The livin' is easy and friends are aplenty. Life is good.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Doctor Feelgood...

or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Fix My Own Damn MP3 Player.

First off, let me say, "Screw You, Steve Jobs!"

The man is rich. Really rich. Really filthy, stinking rich. Billionaire rich. He controls Apple, Pixar and now Disney-which includes ABC and ESPN. He invented the MP3 player like Al Gore invented the internet. He doesn't need my money. Yes, iPods are cool looking, but they're expensive, have a horrible battery life and are no longer cool.

There, I said it. The iPod is un-hip.

How can I make such a bold statement? Well, how can something possibly be cool and hip if there are millions upon millions of them in existence and nearly everyone owns one? They're beyond cool, beyond hip, beyond a fad or a trend. They are ubiquitous. The fact that they are sold out of a vending machine like candy bars at my local grocery story proves this. (I'm not making that up!) Apple keeps the iPod in the limelight by introducing a new model every 9 months, making the previous iteration obsolete and forcing uber-consumers into purchasing new ones to maintain their inflated and false sense of "cool."

I really wanted an mp3 player but couldn't afford an iPod (this is really the source of my hatred), so I purchased a Dell Jukebox, or dellPod as Johnny Mohawk calls 'em. It was great, for nearly $150 less than an equivalent iPod I got myself a magical music machine. I don't care if most people think my dellPod is ugly. I love it.

All was good with the world.And then my hard-drive crashed. Just over a year of constant use and wouldn't you know it, it broke just outside of the extended service coverage.

What would I do? Buy the new nano iPod? Pssshhht! Go from 20 gigabytes to 4, are you kidding me?

Buy the video iPod? Yeah, watching matchbook-sized, lo-res TV is really awesome. And so is the price.

No, I refused to bite from the apple that Jobs tempts me with. I took it upon myself to succeed where Dell tech service failed me.


1. Carefully open the casing of your mp3 player with a metric sledge-hammer. If you can't find one, a small, Phillips screwdriver will work in a pinch. Take apart all the components, maintain confidence that you know what you're doing and that you can re-assemble everything when the time comes. Small electronic gizmos can sense fear--be brave.

2. Remove and set aside the disobedient and malfunctioning hard drive. Give it a good scolding. "Bad hard drive! Go to your room. No supper for you!"

3. Go to eBay to purchase a replacement hard drive. Be very careful to purchase the right one and don't get caught up in the bidding and pay too much. If you paid $130, you got hosed and should have ponied up a little more for a new player. I got mine for $75. Not too shabby.

4. Install the hard drive. Put all the other parts and components back together. If you forgot what went where just do what I did. Cram it all together and keep squishing the halves together until you hear a "click." That means you got it and you should be good to go.

5. Push the power button. IT LIVES! IT LIVES! BUWAAHAHAHAH!!!

Pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for a job well done. DIY kicks ass!

As a bonus, the used hard drive I purchased hadn't been re-formatted and contained the previous owner's music. I got over 5 gigabytes of free music, that's 1,100 songs!!! YIPPEEE!!!

Let's take a gander at the free music on my mp3 player:

Aaron Tippin, Alabama, Alan Jackson, Diamond Rio, Kenny Rogers, Sawyer Brown, The Bellamy Brothers, The Statler Brothers, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins and Tracy Lawrence.

uhhhhhoooohhhhhoooww. I don't feel so good. Is this some kind of sick joke? How can one person have so much bad Country music and nothing else? Why do I suddenly not feel so lucky?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Long Lost Brothers?

So this has been bugging me for some time, has anyone else noticed the facial similarities between the Kool-Aid Man and the Carl's Jr./Hardee's Star?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Four and Four-Fourths

The little dude in the awesome Sponge Bob jersey is my little brother Alex. If you ask him how old he is he'll tell you he's "four and four-fourths." Tomorrow is his 5th birthday and I thought it would be cool to put him on my blog to let everyone know he's going to be 5. Happy Birthday Buddy!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Giving the Gift of Beard

Little known fact, Chuck Norris's beard really is an alien symbiote that gives him his super-natural strength and rugged good looks. Every whisker from his beard can spawn a new symbiote. I happened to have been infected by one such whisker and now have the power to kill and maim with devastating round-house kicks. Fear the beard!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Tattoo Sleeves, 47 Cents and One Sweet Ride

I had quite the fun filled weekend. Laura flew out from Nebraska to see me and we packed as many activities into an LA weekend as humanly possible. For those who don't know, Laura is the girl who was kind enough to let me smooch her on New Year's Eve, as photographically documented in my previous post. Lucky me, she let me smooch her some more on this visit.

Dinner and comedy at the Friar's Club, sun and fun (sans the sun) at the beach in Santa Monica, another Midnight Ride through streets of LA, an art/fashion/rock show to celbrate Bike Winter in LA, the Hollywood walk of fame... I'm still recovering.

A few things I've pondered from this weekend:

Tattoos are trendy. You can't deny it. From counter-culture hipsters to middle-aged Harley owners, everyone seems to be getting inked to display their coolness. And while I've often thought about getting one (or more) myself, I've somehow avoided it. I'm more of an individual among my peers for NOT having a tattoo.

It's almost a cliche to see someone sporting a "unique" tattoo. It was around twelve years ago the first time I noticed a woman with a tattoo on her lower back. I thought it was pretty sexy then. Now you're just as likely to see some sort of tattoo creeping up from the back of a pair of low-riders as you are to see the top of a thong. My favorite tattoo of this type belonged to a former girlfriend of a buddy of mine. She had the Nike Swoosh tattoo'd on her lowerback, giving new meaning to the slogan, "Just Do It."

I've noticed more and more people are getting full-coverage tattoos, often the full sleeve. This is when all the skin on your arm is tattoo'd leaving no un-colored skin and giving the appearance of a "sleeve" of tattoos. Since moving to the suburban hell known as Valencia I've noticed many people with these sleeves. People who have spent a lot of money and time and experienced a lot of pain to cultivate an image that differs from their actual lifestyle. Driving a $30,000 suv and living in a $300,000 condo doesn't make you a bad-ass. Carefully coiffed hair and trendy clothes that are pre-aged for a premium price don't make you cool. I'm guessing that most of the people I see with these tattoos have never worked for minimum wage, much less scraped by paycheck to paycheck. Presumptuous on my part, but that's how I see it. These people are posers. And that's probably the real reason why I don't get a tattoo. I know I'm just not "that" cool.

In contrast, I know a guy, Mike, who is the lead singer for the band Ruin the Ending. He's got a bunch of tattoos, but let's look at his life. He's close to my age and moved to LA for the opportunities it provided his band. He slaves as a bike mechanic for what is likely a less-than-modest wage. Until recently he was living in a closet. Seriously, his bedroom was a closet in a bedroom. AND he fronts a rock band. A loud, no excuses, no synthisizers and no pussies rock band. It doesn't irritate me that he has tattoos. I figure he's earned them.

So take note, if you spend your day as a car salesman or a cpa or an IT guy, you probably should think twice before you tat' up.

While walking the Walk of Fame in Hollywood with Laura we were approached by a scruffy girl of about 20 years of age. She had dredded locks and was wearing dirty clothes and carrying what was probably all of her belongings with her. She said she needed 47 cents and asked if we could help her out. Laura flipped her a couple quarters and as I was handing her fifty more cents I inquired why she needed exactly 47 cents. She stammered a response that she just needed some cash and never mentioned anything specific. A little while later we saw her walking with an equally scruffy looking friend. We overheard the friend ask a stranger for 47 cents. What a hook!

If you think about it, it's perfect. Saying you NEED 47 cents creates the sense that a specific purpose is intended for the money, it isn't just a hand-out. Is it a phone call? A sandwich? A forty-ouncer? Whatever it is, the needy individual is a mere 47 cents away from achieving their monetary goal. And 47 cents isn't much. Less than two quarters. Pocket change.

This had to be one of the best pan-handling queries I've experienced. I commend those two yound ladies. I'm sure they didn't think of it, but they certainly were working it. My only criticism was that they had no response to my question. I figure either lie, tell me you're going to buy a pack of cigarettes, or come clean and just say you're fishing for change.


Laura and I spotted this van on the way home Saturday night. Words really can't describe how crazy and cool it was.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!!!

I had a great New Year's Eve. I hope everyone else did too!