Get an A-Maze Mug! c[_]


Hey, we talked about it before… No one, not two, but three times.

It’s finally here! Get an A-Maze Mug from Ci3! How cool is that? Each mug comes with a dry-erase marker so you can solve the maze, both in a nifty box covered in mazes!

A-MAZE MUG by Ci3 & AiXeLsyD13
A-MAZE MUG by Ci3 & AiXeLsyD13

More cool maze-related merch coming soon. What else would you like to see? Socks? Masks? T-shirts? Books? Puzzles? Mirrors? Tiles?

I haven’t ever done anything to make my mazes available for any kind of sale, so this is exciting to me. What do you think?

I am eternally grateful to Mike Copen for the nudge and the opportunity. It’s so cool for artists, designers, entrepreneurs, & creative types to support each other.

Of course, I think they’d make great gifts for friends, family, teachers, co-workers, or even anyone that may be hard to buy for. Who doesn’t like a nice warm beverage? Solving the maze with the dry erase marker is a good opportunity to kind of zone out in a zen-like state, to help you regain focus to start the day or even decompress at the end of a long day! I know that’s the drive behind drawing them.

These would be great for coffee, tea, hot cocoa, warm apple cider, ramen, or one of my soup recipes.

Please, share the link if you’re so inclined. I’d like to see how far these can go. Thanks in advance if you plan on making a purchase!

Challenge Accepted.


So, the other day I read a Facebook post from Pittsburgh media personality, Marty Griffin. I think Marty is a great talk show host. He does not tow a party line. He seems to be a man of common sense. His job is to stir the pot and get discussions going. I have no doubt he comes at it from the right place. I believe he sees his function as sparking discussion whether it is an easy or a difficult discussion to have. He is by all accounts a guy that really helps his community with his position and I love how he speaks about his family.

I honestly haven’t listened in a while. I know he riles people up. It’s part of the job. I have heard him say things about food allergies that I considered ignorant, but people are complex and you can’t hold your opinions on them to one single issue. I still follow him on social media.

This was the post;

Message from a friend.
What do you say?

This coronavirus is the strangest virus I’ve ever heard of. It’s very dangerous the way it spreads. It is so mysterious the way it lurks in schools, but then dies at Home Depot. It can wreak havoc in churches; praying people are exceptionally vulnerable! Although it’s Mind-boggling how it vanishes when people stand close together holding signs, destroying businesses, homes, property, monuments, etc. Yet, standing to watch a marathon or a concert triggers its wrath. It is sneaky. It can spread when buying clothes at Kohl’s but not at Target. It is non-alcoholic. It can’t spread when you are buying beer. It lives for two days on Amazon boxes, you must wait 48 hours to touch them but It can’t survive on Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, so enjoying a hot cup of joe is safe. It is the most curious thing, how it lives on basketballs, baseball bats and ballet bars, but dies on WWE ropes and Walmart shopping carts. It is spread by hair stylists, dog groomers, and dentists, but not by bank tellers, cashiers, and fast food workers. It’s so smart. It won’t bother the first 10 people but it knows when the 11th person shows up so be careful if that’s you. It even knows what you want vs what you need. If you want a massage or your nails done it is very actively on the prowl and not even a mask can stop it but If you need a plumber, it is weak, and a mask will keep it away. It also seems to be most dangerous after 5:30pm so businesses must start to close before the virus comes out and wreaks havoc upon the populations. Whoever heard of such a smart sneaky virus?!?😂

~copied, author unknown

It, like many other things I have seen on social media lately, just had me exhausted & exasperated.

I made a comment. Not only should I never read the comments, I should never post a comment. It’s a sickness, I tell you. My comment garnered a request. I am happy to oblige.

Please give examples with proof to back it up.

Rather than rant on FB, and in order collect my thoughts/links, I decided to post it here. I was even going to go to a Spongebob Mocking Text Generator to use that and post the OP sentence by sentence & argue it. But I want to be calm & civil. I want to pass on information that I have read, & maybe explain how I have come to perceive it. I may not be correct. I am not a scientist. I am not a journalist. I am just an asshole that figured out how to set up a WordPress a few years back and posts things for about 3 or 4 people to read occasionally.

None of us know the correct course of action. We could, maybe, use past pandemics as a model. We could, maybe, listen to the advise of experts… from doctors to scientists to statisticians, maybe even teams of the aforementioned. We have been inundated with media (and social media) that contradicts itself every few days.

I believe both the state and federal government failed to take swift decisive action, and they failed miserably to communicate how that action was to be rolled out, or why they made the decisions they did. This is not a political post. Leave your “Trump this” and “Wolfe that” at the door. They both needed to have a quick and concise plan, and that did not happen. I believe that government inaction/incompetence, coupled with the ever-contradicting media rushing to be first to a story (or to sensationalize to garner clicks), and further complicated with the panicked populace using social media as an outlet to voice their fear and frustrations… has built a mounting anxiety of epic proportions.

Proof, or at least validation, as requested for the above paragraph:

That is a long-winded way of putting an explanation behind my perspective. Here we go;

This coronavirus is the strangest virus I’ve ever heard of. It’s very dangerous the way it spreads.

Agreed. Read this article from WebMD: How Does Coronavirus Spread? Boy, we’re off to a good start.

It is so mysterious the way it lurks in schools, but then dies at Home Depot.

Um. It’s in both places, but let’s think about it logically. Did you read the article above about how it spreads? (Or one from the CDC, the WHO, Scientific American, or the Mayo Clinic if you prefer?)

Kids are in school for what? About 6 hours. Most of those kids are on buses to & from. Do you know how close together kids sit on the bus, in classrooms, the cafeteria? Have you ever seen a gym class or a playground? You have to realize its a Petri dish for communicable diseases on a good day, right? Right. Kids, though reminded, aren’t always the best at remembering social distancing or washing their hands.

You are hopefully at Home Depot for about an hour at most. If you need longer than that, ask an associate. They are generally knowledgeable or they can find someone who is. Please be polite though, as this is probably an insurmountably stressful time to be working. Better yet, it’s 2020. Order your stuff online and pickup in store and you’ll be in there 10 minutes tops. Hopefully the adults in the store (remember when they asked 1 person per family & no kids?) are able to remember social distancing (or read the arrows in the aisles or stickers on the floor), wearing masks, adhere to occupancy limits based on keeping customers well-spaced apart, and are good at dutifully washing (or at least sanitizing) their hands.

It’s all about risk. Please see this from the CDC: Deciding to Go Out – Venturing Out? Be Prepared and Stay Safe

This article from KLTV may help: Medical experts rank 36 activities by COVID-19 risk level

Does that make any sense? Going quickly in & out of a place of business while following the social distancing policies recommended by our governor puts you (and everyone you may come into contact with thereafter) at MUCH LESS RISK thank spending all day in close quarters with a large amount of tiny unsanitary people.

If you’re going to say it doesn’t seem to get a hold of children, please see this: ATTENTION PARENTS…. this morning I was notified that Lucas tested positive for COVID (Facebook) …and this: Kids with suspected Covid-related syndrome need immediate attention, doctors say (CNN)

It can wreak havoc in churches; praying people are exceptionally vulnerable!

Gonna go ahead and agree here, although it isn’t the praying that’s worrisome as much as the singing.

Read about how taking deep breaths and singing while packed together tightly is a perfect vehicle in which to spread the virus:

Read multiple accounts of pastors refusing to close churches thus promoting rampant spread:

I don’t even know if I really need to offer my take here. You can find many more examples on Google, and probably even Bing or Yahoo.

Although it’s Mind-boggling how it vanishes when people stand close together holding signs, destroying businesses, homes, property, monuments, etc. Yet, standing to watch a marathon or a concert triggers its wrath. It is sneaky.

What is sneaky here is the slight at the ongoing protests of the Black Lives Matter movement. I won’t get into that here, other than to say a few short things: It’s saying “black lives matter, too.” more than “only black lives matter.” It’s saying “black lives matter now.” Then again, what do I know? I’m a straight white guy who grew up in a sheltered suburb of a still largely segregated city. Listen to 8:46 by Dave Chappelle. If that doesn’t move you emotionally, I don’t know what will. And don’t confuse protesters with rioters and looters. They are diverting attention and skewing the message. Even you, “antifa!” Which by the way, is not an organization or a thing at all, but a philosophy. That philosophy was shred by the United States of America & most of the world when we kicked Hitler’s ass.

Back to the original discussion, and I don’t believe I have to say this. The protests are not organized or sanctioned by your state or local officials. OK, the governor got a great photo op and PR boost, or maybe, just maybe… he valued the ongoing betterment of society over his own personal health & safety? I don’t even know what to say here. No one anywhere gave anyone the OK to protest. The protesters have had enough. They want heard. They want noticed. They want change.

It can spread when buying clothes at Kohl’s but not at Target.

Target sells food and other essential items. Kohl’s does not. What do you need from Kohl’s that you can’t get at Target or Walmart? Don’t say better clothes because in the early stages of the pandemic you were asked to not go anywhere. I don’t think I need to cite a source or proof here. Again, if people were in Target or Walmart wandering around aimlessly instead of shopping “on a mission” to get in and get out as explained above with the case of Home Depot vs. school (and all those links), then that is their own entirely stupid prerogative.

It is non-alcoholic. It can’t spread when you are buying beer.

Actually I believe alcohol kills the virus… so if it was sentient it probably would choose to be non-alcoholic. (That’s washing your hands with it, not drinking it.) If you remember, alcohol sales were shut down entirely, then opened because the government realized that withdrawal symptoms from alcoholism could be deadly. This isn’t a moral debate. Again with risk, getting in & out of the beer store quickly, & your personal feelings on whether it’s a nessecity.

It lives for two days on Amazon boxes, you must wait 48 hours to touch them but It can’t survive on Dunkin Donuts coffee cups, so enjoying a hot cup of joe is safe.

This is where maybe the media is sort-of to blame? They rushed to get the information out. Or was it groups of doctors and scientists publishing studies to quick? Was it the world’s hunger for information? I don’t know. The risk seems to have gone down. Did we wipe-down Amazon boxes or anything else that was delivered at the beginning of the pandemic? You’re damn right we did. Do we now? Not so much, but we discard packaging right away & wash our hands immediately. Why the change? Well, we did this curious thing where we adapted our behaviors based on the best and latest information available. I know that sounds crazy. But it works for us. For some reason, the “experts” as they are, decided that take-out food was low risk. Some still advised to wipe-down and discard packaging. Perhaps the push was because (we can only hope) that food-service employees are trained repeatedly on sanitary practices, so ramping up a bit more to protect them selves and the public may not have been that difficult. Word on the street is that Amazon doesn’t really care about employee health & safety, let alone yours.

I don’t even know how to tie these together:

So, there’s that.

It is the most curious thing, how it lives on basketballs, baseball bats and ballet bars, but dies on WWE ropes and Walmart shopping carts.

It’s not the objects in question, although it can probably live on all of those surfaces… it’s the activity. You are most likely breathing heavily while playing basketball, baseball, or dancing a ballet. Did you read above why that’s bad with choirs? I would guess that also applies here.

The WWE, I believe, is testing all participants involved. Also, they dubiously were classified as essential by the state of Florida. I mean, Florida. I don’t know if I would agree with this, but if they feel they can do it within the guidelines of social distancing and that state is corrupt enough to agree, who am I to stop them?

Yeah. Maybe the WWE doesn’t have the welfare of their people or the general public in mind. I don’t think I would hold them up as a standard-bearer of science, morality, or medical advice.

It is spread by hair stylists, dog groomers, and dentists, but not by bank tellers, cashiers, and fast food workers.

Yes, yes, & yes. No, no, & no.

A hair stylist is in your face for an extended period of time, probably in a ship full of other stylists or barbers in other people’s faces. The dog groomer is all over your dog with their hands… both potentially spreading COVID-19-laced bits of hair airborne. Masks mitigate risk, but not when you aren’t also standing the recommended distance apart. Also, hair stylist work in cash tips. No one wants your filthy cash.

The dentist is literally in your face. That job is disgusting enough without the threat of COVID-19 being spread from patient to dentist or patient to patient. I would say that if the dentist was open, they would handle emergencies & take all of the recommended steps to maintain your safety. I was unaware that dentists were ordered to shut down.

Bank tellers are generally behind a big Plexiglas wall. Most banks were drive-through only for a while anyway, no? Keeping customers apart car-to-car instead of in line in person is half the battle. Cashiers & fast food workers are now behind a big Plexiglas shield. Plus, food is essential, and haircuts are not. I think we covered stores & food already with the requested examples & proof.

As above with us personally lightening up on Amazon packages and the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania going into the green phase, maybe it is time to get back to the stuff. I anticipate a post-Memorial Day & post-protest spike though, so I’m gonna sit back a while.

I will eventually get back to my awesome barber shop, and I sure need it. They will get a big tip and I’ll sanitize the money first.

It won’t bother the first 10 people but it knows when the 11th person shows up so be careful if that’s you.

Social Distancing

Again, it’s all about the exponential spread. There has to be a number to pick. Ten people will spread it to less than eleven. You know how math works, right?

Yes, 10 is an arbitrary number, but there had to be a recommended number.

It even knows what you want vs what you need. If you want a massage or your nails done it is very actively on the prowl and not even a mask can stop it but If you need a plumber, it is weak, and a mask will keep it away.

Facemask/Peeing Meme

What? You want someone, potentially an asymptomatic spreader, putting their hands all over your mostly naked body? Good luck with that. Masks work in conjunction with social distancing. How can we not all agree on that already?

If you need a plumber, it’s probably an emergency. Feces backed up in your house, or a lack of running water may not help with the whole hand-washing thing. If the plumber is willing to come out, it (again) is an acceptable risk. Again… getting a massage or getting your nails done may not be as essential as having a functioning toilet.

Got it?

It also seems to be most dangerous after 5:30pm so businesses must start to close before the virus comes out and wreaks havoc upon the populations.

Aren’t you snarky?

Stores close early or open late to limit their employee’s exposure to the general public (some of whom erroneously believe their liberty is being threatened while they are asked to follow some pretty simple social distancing guidelines for the time being to promote the improved health of everyone), and to give the employees (or contracted specialty cleaning crews) a chance to sanitize the stores from top to bottom before the next day, all without extending the essential workers’ (who are are probably under inordinate amounts of stress) shifts.

A lot of these same stores offer early hours to the most vulnerable groups of the population.

Does that clear that up?

Whoever heard of such a smart sneaky virus?!?😂

By now, we all have. Hopefully, anyway. Although, a lot of us don’t seem to understand it yet, including the experts. Hopefully we get a treatment or a vaccination soon.

Have you heard of it now?

~copied, author unknown

Of course.

But to the commenter on my comment, I hope I did provide enough examples with proof to back things up for you. I hope you weren’t looking for anecdotal evidence. I hope I opened up your mind a bit. Maybe we can learn from each other. I am just looking to keep my family and myself safe during all this. That extends to friends and co-workers and yes, the general public. It would be nice if we could all stick to a plan.

Avoid it like the plague.

Reflective Retrospective Recollective


AiXeLsyD 🎸 Gasoline Dion 🎸 Ernie and the BertsSo, recently turning 40 has me reflecting on life in general (which is pretty damn great) & on my accomplishments as a “musician” even though I’m not actively gigging right now.

I’m pretty self-deprecating of my musical talents, but I am proud of the major part of the aural art that I helped create.  I compiled and uploaded a few of my favorites after using Audacity to clip out some silence and mp3Gain to try to get all the volume levels somewhat similar.

If you’ll indulge me I’d like to give my thoughts & memories on each of these songs that I was proud to be a part of with AiXeLsyD, Gasoline Dion, & Ernie and the Berts.  If I have any of the stories, names, etc. wrong, please correct me in the comments.  Being that these are punk rock(ish) bands, you may find the content explicit and/or objectionable.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

🎸

  1. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy came up with this cool shuffling progression and I played a super easy solo over it.  I believe we kept the first take of the solo even though at the time I thought I could do better.  It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.  It was cool to open shows with this then rip into something completely different. It was called “Tommy’s Jam” until an inside joke on a local message board inspired the new name.

  2. AiXeLsyD – “Wait”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Probably the first song that I wrote that I liked, and probably the first original that we worked on in the band.  We dug on this & recorded it a million times.  It morphed a bit, but was basically the same simple jam.  Ben doubling the vocals an octave lower and the guitar part at the end really fills it out.

  3. Gasoline Dion – “Pickle Farm”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy had recorded this song solo, and it contributed to the itch that I needed to scratch when we formed Gasoline Dion.  I really liked the melody.  I think he stole the lyrics from Space Ghost or Brak.  This song to me is about not being a square peg that’s forced into a round hole.  I liked singing background vocals & playing guitar.

  4. Ernie and the Berts – “Toybox”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin wanted to start a band to play rocked-out Willy Wonka covers.  That never happened.  This did.  It was the first original that stuck, and an early recording became the soundtrack to a friend’s video project.  Dave learned to play drums in/for this band.  This is a nice simple driving groove and is the perfect vehicle for the introduction of Erin’s gnarly gravelly voice.

  5. AiXeLsyD – “Hopeless & Heartless”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I wrote this on the outside of seeing someone with a broken heart.  I thought it was pretty catchy.  The “whoa-oh’s” are overkill but oddly necessary in my humble opinion. I think An-Die, Ben, & I are all singing on multiple tracks here.

  6. Gasoline Dion – “Cold”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This riff was a leftover AiXeLsyD riff that almost became part of two songs but never really went anywhere.  Mike had some leftover Who’s.Keeping.Score? lyrics that Dave & I re-arranged.  Dave & I work really well on arranging musical parts & lyrics. I really really dig Tommy & I singing together on this one.

  7. Ernie and the Berts – “Fred Rogers”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin supposed that a local hero may not really be a hero on this one.  Maybe he read that weird urban legend.  I really like the guitar part here, although it’s missing some kind of effect in my head.  Wah?  Phaser?  Not sure.  Erin let me just go goofy with background vocals here.  I felt like Danzig or that Not-Danzig guy in the Cult.  I love how this song builds into chaos.

  8. AiXeLsyD – “Stand Up”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This is where it all pulled together, and it was the last proper thing we recorded.  Ha ha. An-Die wrote the riff & lyrics, I arranged them.  Ben came up with the guitar noodling& octaves riff. I think I came up with the stupid  guitar part for the verse. I really dig my guitar solo here,even though I went too long.  (Oddly, this sounds a lot like “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” by Dramarama as played by Buckcherry.)

  9. Gasoline Dion – “Political Songs (With Deep Meaning)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I was listening to a lot of the Unseen, I think.  I don’t really write political stuff that often.  This was taking the piss out of that genre.  Dave sounded better on it with vocals.  I scream “feet” in the background and give the creepy laugh at the end.  We lost the original lyrics, so Dave used what he remembered and made the rest up on the fly.  I don’t really think any one ever tried to intemperate a deeper meaning. If they did, they didn’t tell us.

  10. Ernie and the Berts – “Don’t Fuck With Ernie”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It was hard to tell if Erin was serious or joking a lot of the time. He had a deadpan delivery, and it was hilarious. To deliver this ridiculousness so seriously is hilarious to me.  I think I sort of came up with this riff over top of his bass line.

  11. AiXeLsyD – “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It’s “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”, not “Dave’s Ugly Girlfriend.”  People always seemed to get that wrong.  Dave Ugly played bass & sang for one of our favorite local bands, Useless Torment.  I don’t tell the story as well as An-Die, but Dave was apparently saying he loved him, and An-Die was playing the “even if…” game, and arrived at this.  I remember being “mad” when Sum 41 came out as a punk band rapping.  I think Boner played guitar on this one and Ben played Drums?

  12. Gasoline Dion – “Bitch Pants Opera”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I don’t know if we could do this one today.  People seem so easily offended.  It’s just a joke.  We don’t really care if you wear girl pants.  We’re not insinuating or implying anything.  We look ridiculous too.  Another Dave vocals song, I am screaming the high parts.  All of us are in the beginning. I think the breakdown was inspired by hardcore /screamo kids in skinny jeans doing the windmill and Peelander-Z’s “S.T.E.A.K.”

  13. Ernie and the Berts – “Ikea”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Dave suggested I try a little more dynamics with space and clean.  Dave is usually right.  You can do a lot with the same 3 chords over & over. This was a slice of Erin’s life, full of his observations.  We almost got permission to go in & shoot a video there.  Somebody must have really listened to the lyrics.  He had “nicer” ones prepared just in case we needed to sell out.

  14. AiXeLsyD – “Love, Hopes, Dreams, & Smiles”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] |I think An-Die hated this one.  I liked the noodling& the melody.  The lyrics are super dumb & trite.  The song was made infinitely cooler when Ben put in that volume swell in the final mix.  That was never there, then we started doing it live after he did that to the recording.  This could probably be punched-up a little bit more.

  15. Gasoline Dion – “Two of a Kind”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy sings like an angel.  I have no idea what in the hell he’s talking about here.  I think Dave & Mike made this honky-tonk-ish.  I played a little solo under Tommy’s vocals at the end because nobody ever told me not to.  The end sounds like the Misfits’ “NY Ranger.”

  16. Ernie and the Berts – “I Don’t Wanna”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin stole this one from a band called Suck-Your-Brains-A-Go-Go.  I don’t know if they ever recorded it.  I should ask the man who wrote it some time.  We made it ours. I think Bengt punched-up some of the guitar & added a bit of harmonies during the recording process.

  17. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug (Reprise)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Same thing as the first track, second solo take by me with a wah pedal this time. Dave is also on guitar making crazy noises and soloing in between all of my notes.  Ha ha.  If you don’t “get” the speaking part, watch the Josie and the Pussycats movie some time.

I’d love to know what you think, or to read/see/hear your own memories about these bands or in any bands or projects in which you have participated.   Did I miss a song or two that you may have remembered or liked?  Comments (or likes or whatever is deemed social-media-appropriate) on the songs on SoundCloud or YouTube would be awesome and greatly appreciated, too.

🎸

Check out the playlist on SoundCloud:

🎸

Check out the playlist on YouTube:

Can you Dig it?

I think you should be able to download a zip of the collection on Google Drive or SendSpace if you’re so inclined.  If you can’t get it there, let me know and I can email it to you.

🎸

The AiXeLsyD stuff:

The Gasoline Dion stuff:

The Ernie and the Berts Stuff:

🎸

Check out some related posts:

NOTE:  Edited to correct links to YouTube videos, made new ones for some slideshows that were too short.  Also, check the comments!

Wait. What? (The Bob Evans saga continues.)


I never emailed these names.  Seriously.  Someone must have sent Jon the text of my blog, or a link to my blog.  My original email contained the names which I then changed to something I thought would be ridiculous and obvious, so I didn’t accidentally call out another real employee.

Am I being trolled?

On Thursday, November 19, 2015 8:54 PM, “0503, BER” <Unit_503@bobevans.com> wrote:

Hello,

                I am following up on a bad review that we had charge to our store.  I was hoping to get some more information, as we believed our location received this review in error.  We don’t have servers by either name mentioned in the review (Maleficient and Lincoln), and would like to find out which store you were actually at.  Then we can send this along to them, so that they can address these issues.  Thank you for your time.

Jon Herrmann
General Manager
Bob Evans #503
Bridgeville, PA
(412) 257-1369

Shenanigans. ☘

I wrote back.  Nothing interesting besides pointing out that I never sent those names in an email.

I also got an email from LeAnn confirming our Dormont address, so I passed along the new one.  I wonder if I’ll get a T-shirt?

If it’s gift certificates, does anyone know of a charity that accepts them or of a family in need?

Maybe they’re sending someone to dispatch of me.  Maybe I should ask King’s to weigh in?

This still makes me laugh uncontrollably:

YOU GET A CRAYON!

Smiling & coloring rule.

I did get a really insightful comment on the last post though. Doesn’t seem like it’s gone down that way so far.

 

All we wanted were some crayons.


So, this past Saturday night we had an interesting experience at the local Bob Evans.  I have blogged about one of our experiences with an angry server there before, but haven’t touched upon the 3 or 4 other times that “the kitchen held up the order” while she talked to other customers at great length about slot machines at the Meadows, or the time that she rolled her eyes at me while the wife and I were discussing the seasonal shrimp on the menu in regards to where it was cooked and my allergy.  This time we were most likely doubly annoying as we had two small children with us.  The saga begins…

From: Eric Carroll <me@my.email.addre.ss>
To: Leann D. Purdy, Nathaniel A. Riggs, BE-mail

Hello Leann and Nate,

I hope this message finds you well, and that you’re both still with the Bob Evans team!  You may remember that I had contacted you in the past about the #jelly3x rule and a bad experience at the Bob Evans in Bridgeville Pennsylvania, and blogged about that alongside your enthusiastic response, and even more thorough follow-up.

We have since had a few other experiences with that waitress, including one where she rolled her eyes at me and said “well, you don’t have to order it” when I was discussing the shrimp stir-fry available seasonally.  Clearly, she has absolutely no grasp of cross-contamination.  The running theme with her seems to be that the kitchen is always late & to blame with any service issues.

Being that we have generally excellent food & service at the Bridgeville location, and it’s now even closer to home since we have moved to Bridgeville, we have gone in to dine and simply requested with the host or hostess to not be seated in her section.

Sadly this weekend, we didn’t spot her upon our arrival and did not inform the hostess of our preference.  We were quickly welcomed by the hostess, seated in her section and decided to go with it as it had been a while since we had Maleficent as our server.

Nowadays, we have a 2½ year old and a 7 month old in tow.  Bob Evans is a great place to get a full meal for a family without breaking the bank, yet another notch in the proverbial “pro’s” column.  (I mean, have you spent the same amount of money at Panera or Steak n’ Shake? It’s not even half of the food.  Maybe local heroes Eat’n Park can almost compete.)

Maleficent quickly came to the table and took our drink orders.  Our eldest ordered apple juice, I asked for an iced tea, and the wife went for water.  Our drinks were brought quickly and our waitress shot a nasty look to the table beside us as the hostess sat another family with 3 older children as she set our drinks down.  She came back a bit later to take our food order and my wife politely asked for straws which we didn’t get with our drinks and some crayons that weren’t included with our kid’s meal place-mat menu.

Maleficent Immediately huffed as she slammed down the straws and remarked that she didn’t have time to get crayons because she just had two other tables seated in her section.  We were only wanting crayons because it had taken her a while to come back and take our food order, well before anyone else had been seated in our section.

I forget exactly what the exchange was that followed.  I know my wife had mentioned that we had had several problems in the past with her service. I was pretty much shocked into jaw-agape silence at that point.  My wife ended with standing up to go speak to the manager, and Maleficent yelled (yes, yelled) “Lincoln, take tables 54 and 56!” or something to that effect.

After my wife came back from a conversation with the manager, one of the aforementioned customers beside us said “Wow. I can’t believe she told you no on the crayons.”  We gave the super-condensed version of our history with Maleficent as they continued in their wide-eyed disbelief.

Maleficent continued to serve that family, but we and another nearby table had been reassigned to a young man named Lincoln (Linkin?), on either Maleficent or the manager’s authority.  I wasn’t present for my wife’s conversation with the manager, but it was apparently full of knowing nods and angry head-shakes as she regaled the manager with tales of our past adventures with Maleficent.  I do know that my wife apparently characterized me as a madman about to lose all patience to bolster her point.  Perhaps that’s why the manager never came to the table to offer either an apology or an explanation.

Now, reading back on this, the story so far does sound like we are being absolutely ridiculous over the exclusion of two crayons for the amusement of our child who’s behavior, rearing, and amusement are wholly our responsibility.  Do you also see how the past history and an apparently poor attitude towards customers and a potential tip factor into this moment?  It must have been some serious shenanigans in order for the next table to notice.

The lesson I have learned is that we will keep crayons and a coloring book in our family vehicle for just such a purpose.  It is not Bob Evans’ responsibility to develop my child’s creativity and fine motor skills, nor to provide a means to pacifying the insatiable need for constant activity or the lack of patience to wait for a delicious prepared meal.  Despite evidence to the contrary, we were indeed prepared parents with our own plastic mess-prevention and environment-sterilizing place-mat for our son.  He can’t color yet, but he can shovel tiny bits of food into his mouth at a rate destined to require another kid’s meal sooner rather than later.

This leads us to Lincoln (Linkin?). Lincoln was certainly on top of his game after being saddled with two more tables in addition to his already presumably busy/full section.  He came through and delighted our daughter with a two-pack of pink and purple crayons. Lincoln took our order with a smile, brought the food out quickly with no conspiratorial kitchen issues, and was just all-around pleasant.  We even had to ask for a replacement fork as we had somehow lost one.  It was brought out amid a flurry of what I presume to be normal Saturday restaurant activity with no hesitation, and rather quickly.  We even got jelly on one request.

After our meal, we thanked him for being such an incredible server, and I remarked that I was glad he was so understanding because I was nervous about being labeled as some sort of problem after requesting a new server.  He indicated that it was not a surprise, happens regularly, and that he didn’t come to us with any preconceived notions.  He also added that people inexplicably (my words, not his) come in and request to be seated in Maleficent’s section and Maleficent’s section only.

We will request Lincoln’s section in the future, and barring that option we’ll just request not be seated in Maleficent’s section.  I can play that game.  We cleaned up as best we could from our inevitable child-induced mess, left close to a 50% tip, and found the errant fork before we left.  The table directly beside us (I assume the other table taken by Lincoln at the same time we were handed over) also rather audibly and publicly thanked Lincoln for being such a great server.  I’m not sure if they also had issues that we weren’t aware of?  I told the cashier how happy we were with our service upon checkout.

I don’t want to pick on a server.  I do want to illustrate the contrast between what I see as poor service as it relates to incredible service and how it didn’t seem to be any more difficult than you make it.  I do hope Lincoln is rewarded for a job well done and his overall attitude.  I’m sure it reflects in his work effort and in his gratuities.  I would hope that you can again pass this email along to all of the appropriate parties.  Area coaches and the store management, correct?  I really feel like we were nothing but polite and reasonable up until we were denied crayons, and we remained polite and reasonable immediately after that whole exchange.  That seems like an absolutely insane sentence for one adult to write to another.  Do I have a valid point, or am I just super way out of line here?

I would just drop the entire issue and move on, but Bob Evans is one of the few places that I can safely get a meal with my shellfish allergy, I can comfortably order anything on the menu (outside of the seasonal Lent-deathfish), it’s very close by, and I feel like we really get great value for a dollar when we dine at your establishment.

Last time you sent out some gift certificates.  Please save them this time.  I don’t want free food, I just want a stress-free dining experience.  If you must send gift certificates, can you direct them to a Pittsburgh charity that can give them to people who do perhaps need a free meal?  Thankfully I can put food on the table for my family while many others struggle to do so.  We need to get our butts out on a kids-eat-free promotional night if we want a free meal.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, my complaints are trivial.  I realize that some would enjoy any meal regardless of the way in which it was delivered.  What if though, this had been that meal for someone?  What if this was one night out that they looked forward to and it was met with the kind of service that we regularly receive from one apparently disgruntled waitress?  Is this how Bob Evans wants to be perceived?

I plan to blog this adventure also.  I do less of that these days, but this seemed to be appropriately entertaining.  Of course, the names will be omitted or changed.

I also look forward to your response and insight.  Thank you once again for your time and assistance!

Just crayons?

-Eric

https://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com

me@my.emailaddre.ss

I can’t wait for a response.  Sadly, I see from the Yahoo! mailer daemon that Nate is no longer with Bob Evans.  I think I knew he outgrew them a while back.  I may try to ping it out to a few more people.  I have contacted others at Bob Evans in the past, during my pre-Wordpress days.  I even had someone send me a “safe” list of where things were cooked and what would be OK for me to eat while they had shellfish on the menu.  Overall they have stellar corporate customer service, but we just have this continual issue with a crazy server who reminds me of the mailman in the movie Funny Farm.

Bob Evans - Tuesday Night is Family Night

Tuesday Night is Family Night

Decoding the car horn honk. (So, can you help this PA n00b out?) #beep ⚠


Recently, I was contacted by a non-native PA resident as a sort of last ditch effort in providing an answer behind the reason to the local-ish custom of horn honking.  I believe a Google led to my blog on horn honking traffic trolls (or maybe one of many road rage posts).  As much as I’d like to proclaim myself an authority on all things ridiculous in Southwestern & Central PA, I must confess that I’d only be guessing here.  So, I’d like to ask you to help this southern transplant understand the ways of us nothern-ish-ers here in Pennsyltucky.

Here’s the email:

Name: Victoria

Email: XXXX####@gmail.com

Website: http://victoriasviewpoint.wordpress.com

Message / Comment:

Hi,

I really hope you can help me, and answer my question before I either lose my mind, or go running out into the street to flag down a driver and ask him/her.

A bit of background: I moved to Central PA 5 years ago from Memphis, TN.  It’s a very long and stupid story but, suffice to say, I am stuck in Hollidaysburg for now.  It’s not a bad little town.  And, compared to Memphis, it’s safety personified.

Anyway, I have noticed over the years that people honk their horns here.  A lot.  And not (seemingly) to acknowledge a friend they see on the street, as I have noticed this happen when there is NO one on the street (my street, in particular).

It always bugged me, and no one seemed to know why people do this (or it’s a stupid reason and they are ashamed to tell me), but today I really got in a snit.

From around 2:30 this afternoon for a good 5 minutes, people were honking their horns.  A lot of people, honking a lot of horns.  It annoyed me.

I looked on the internet, which is where I found your blog about horn-honking, and since you are in Pittsburgh, I thought you might be able to explain to me what in hell is with all this honking!  I didn’t see anything on the internet that it’s, say, “Hollidaysburg Annual Honk-Your-Horn Day” at 2:30 PM or anything.

It’s snowing a bit, the first time this season.  Is this some kind of weird weather ritual I never noticed until today?  “Honk if you like snow”?

To me, it just seemed like an exaggerated example of something I hear on an all-too-often basis.  And it’s, as we say in Memphis, getting on my last nerve!

Do you know what’s going on with this behavior??

Thank you in advance,
Victoria

How’d you find my blog?: searching for “Pennsylvania horn honking”

Time: November 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm
IP Address: ##.###.###.#
Contact Form URL: https://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com/contact/

Sent by a verified WordPress.com user.

And here are my thoughts:

Other than that, I’m stuck.  What say you, people of Pennsylvania?  Please comment below.  Victoria and I would appreciate it!

DON'T HONK | $350 PENALTY 🚌🚍🚙🚘🚗🚕🚖🚛🚚🚓🚔🚒🚑🚐

Chick-fil-A-Go-Go! 🎸🎤🎧🎵🎶


OK, so it’s been a while since I’ve been productively making music & actively writing songs.  Apparently the bug never goes away.  I have been thinking about doing punk rock-ish kids songs for a while.  (The Sablowskis beat me to it!)

Yeah, there is the AiXeLsyD reunion gig coming up… whenever that is, and it doesn’t seem like Ernie and the Berts was all that long ago.

I saw a contest online last week and it sparked me to get my ass quickly in gear. Music Go Round in Monroeville is holding a guitar giveaway, and I have been mentally drooling all over Eastwood Guitars online for quite some time. The Side Jack is pretty awesome!

It would be really cool if you could help me win this axe by clicking “like” on this post: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=698216686929723&permPage=1

It may help to follow or like the Music Go Round Monroeville, PA Facebook page too.  It has to be on that post on their page, no “likes” here or on my link(s) to it on my Facebook profile count.  Voting is only open this week, they pick a winner on the 27th!

As far as the song goes, I threw it together in under an hour with a downloaded app for the tablet, using crappy headphones, the built-in mic on the tablet, and my acoustic guitar down in the basement.  I think it shows.  But, I still think it’s a hooky tune with some potential.  I may have to recruit a few of the usual suspects or even some unusual ones to help me complete the process.

Molly is absolutely terrified of the Chick-fil-A cow.  My guess is that other kids are too. Seems like we can find a whole lot more to relate to with some feet-tapping tunes!

Chick-fil-A-Go-Go

Chick-fil-A-Go-Go

💸💰💵 Go team #NoLobsterOmelettesPlease! 💸💰💵 | #FoodAllergy Walk #Pittsburgh


📣 So, I have 1,103 “friends” on Facebook, and 985 “followers” on Twitter. If everyone gave just $1 to the FARE 🚶walk for Food Allergies in Pittsburgh this year on Sept. 14th, I’d have $2088 donated. If you all gave $5, that would be $10,440. (OK, if you follow me on both social media platforms, you’d technically have to donate double.)

Please consider taking a few minutes to follow the URL, and donating a buck or two so we can raise #FoodAllergy awareness, and work towards a cure for Molly’s egg allergy and my shellfish/crustacean/mollusk/deathfish allergy. Our goal as a family is a measly $300 and we have $100 so far. I would be so grateful and proud if we could surpass that goal. Thank you for listening (reading), thank you for considering, & thank you in advance for any donations.

[Also: This involves no video-ing, no wasted water, and no whining about how not-helpful a viral campaign is even though it clearly worked. Good job #ALS people!]

http://www.foodallergywalk.org/pittsburgh2014/carrollfamily

💸💰💵 Go team #NoLobsterOmelettesPlease! 💸💰💵

So, they call it a Babymoon…


Apparently the newest annoying word for some time away is Babymoon.  It’s better than Daycation or Staycation, but still annoying.  The word is annoying, but the actual time away isn’t.  With the impending arrival getting closer and closer, many online pregnancy-related websites & email lists suggest taking a babymoon.  This goes especially for first time parents, as a nice little last fling before all of your apparent freedoms disappear.

We decided a while ago that a nice little getaway to a cabin would be the way to go.  We have been tent camping at Forest Ridge Cabins and Campgrounds before, but had never tried out the cabins.  They always looked quite inviting.  The campground itself is always clean, and the owners are quite hospitable.  The prices are competitive with other places that we checked out online, and really quite affordable.  Important for the babymoon aspect, it’s not that far away.  Cabins are our thing now I guess… since we honeymooned in one in Gatlinburg, TN.  It all just seemed to make sense.

We booked the date a while ago, assuming that since it was spring we’d have a nice warm weekend.  It was a nice weekend, but there was about 5 inches of snow on the ground, and the temperature never got much above freezing.

We stayed in the Allegheny cabin, and it was warm & cozy inside.  We brought along some DVD‘s, cooked some s’mores (with peanut butter cups) around the campfire, and just had a nice relaxing weekend.  The kitchen was stocked with all kinds of cookware and utensils, we made a nice steak dinner on Saturday.  I also made a friend in Oliver, one of the campground cats.  He strolled up as I was waiting for the last log to burn out on the campfire, then followed me up on the porch to hang out a but on top of the hot tub cover.  He liked to look in the window at us, then look away when he saw that we were looking at him.

I think we’ve decided that Forest Ridge is “our place” as far as camping when we’re not going camping at Living Waters.

Check out Forest Ridge on Facebook, Twitter, & Yelp, and check out some of our photos…

The Fort Pitt Friggin’ Bridge.


A quick look at Wikipedia shows that some guy in the late 1950s named George S. Richardson was actually a computer that designed the Fort Pitt Bridge. Well, maybe he used a computer. The Wikipedia article is surprisingly unclear.  It says that Richardson designed it, but it also says “It was the world’s first computer designed bowstring arch bridge.”

The bridge opened in 1959. It’s 2013. I’m not sure how many revisions (if any) have occurred since 1959. I get that in combination with the Fort Pitt Tunnel it’s quite popular, but certainly there should have been changes over the years. I haven’t checked census data, but it’s a safe bet that the region’s population & the number of people who own cars has risen quite dramatically since then.  I believe it’s time for an overhaul.

Did this ever make sense?

Did this ever make sense?  (From Bing)

The Fort Pitt Bridge - Chaos by Bing Maps

The green arrow shows where Jagoffs come from.

There are several problems, but the biggest one that drives me crazy is Yinzer drivers coming out of the city making their own lanes.  It’s bad enough that you have to sometimes cross 3 lanes in a short distance to make sure you’re in the correct lane to get where you’re going.  Check out the green arrow in the picture to the right.  This is the ramp coming from Liberty Ave. downtown.  Apparently during the afternoon commute out of the city, people coming up these two lanes decide to not merge into one lane as suggested by those funny little white dashed lines.  They also choose not to obey the only traffic sign on the bridge, a STOP sign.  Well, there’s 2 of them…  but both for the same lane.  These images from Google’s street view might show what I mean:

It’s pretty clear how one is supposed to merge in such a situation.  The STOP sign here is ridiculous.  It ought to be illegal to pull out from a full stop while traffic is whizzing by at a high speed.  It’s there nonetheless… and should be obeyed.  Like I said, there are many problems.  Let me get back to focusing on the crazy extra lane-making Yinzer drivers.  Look at this…

2 cars, 1 lane

2 cars, 1 lane

Those dingleberries are side-by-side in one lane.  So are these dingleberries behind them:

These guys are both dingleberries.

Following the lead…

Buses are the Devil.

Buses are the Devil.

Now, is this really helping the traffic situation?  No.  It does slow down everyone in my lane.  No one seems to want to stop, they pull out & to the left to go into the tunnel, or out & right to go to the West End.  I took those photos of these numb-nuts a while ago… but on a very special day a while ago, I saw a bus doing it.  Yes, a PAT bus was beside a car in a single lane, and trying to cut across into the lane to my right if I were to stay in the lane I was in & simply go forward.

Just typing all of this out & trying to explain it rationally hurts my head.  Why aren’t there cops there?  You could triple the city or count’s monthly revenue in about 2 hours at that spot.

Clearly something needs done at this intersection.  Traffic lights?  A camera that captures your license plate when you break a law or 10 merging lanes?  It’s absolutely ridiculous.  Who started this?  Obviously others have seen people get away with it, so they are trying it too.  What part of your brain rationalizes that this is somehow acceptable behavior?

Have you run into this insanity?  Please, share your hate for the Fort Pitt Bridge in the comments.