Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fun for young boys -- get stuck in a vending machine!

This entry is dedicated to Paige Ferrari, since she is currently in hiding (or something).

While I was scanning the news wires, I came across this dandy little piece:

Abilene, Texas -- Three-year-old Joshua Walk crawled up the chute of a restaurant toy vending machine to try and liberate one of the toys he wanted on his own. (October 24, 2006)

Then I spotted this story:

Antigo, Wisconsin -- Three-year-old Robert Moore climbed into a vending machine for a stuffed SpongeBob SquarePants. (October 24, 2006)

Two stories about boys trapped in vending machines in one day. Coincidence? This piqued my interest, so I scoured around for other recent incidents similar to this. I hit the jackpot...

Austin, Minnesota -- Three-year-old Devin Haskin crawled through the discharge chute of a Toy Chest claw machine at a Godfather's Pizza in his hometown, he ended up on the other side of the glass surrounded by stuffed animals. (March 26, 2006)

Wait, there's more:

Elkhart, Indiana - Three-year-old James Manges II slid down a chute into the crane vending machine at a Wal-Mart, where he played happily with the toys. (May 19, 2005)

I was about to conclude that getting stuck in vending machines was exclusive fun for three-year-old boys. Then I uncovered this one:

Sheboygan, Wisconsin -- Seven-year-old Timmy Novotny crawled into a stuffed toy animal game machine at a Piggly Wiggly supermarket. (January 4, 2004)

I wonder why little girls don't climb into vending machines...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Today is "Take Back Your Time Day"... Who knew?

I took a day off work today. Unbeknownst to me, today was declared "Tack Back Your Time Day". As I was in my car driving to the bank, I heard a news report on the radio regarding "Tack Back Your Time Day".

So what exactly is "Take Back Your Time Day"? According to ABC News (via Reuters), this is the fourth annual "Take Back Your Time Day":

The idea is to persuade U.S. workers -- who tend to work long hours, put in more work hours then their European counterparts and often fail to use their allotted vacation time -- to work less, he said. Studies show working less improves productivity, employee health and morale and reduces absenteeism and on-the-job accidents, supporters say.

Today, October 24th, marks the day in 1940 that the 40-hour work week took effect under the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act. Hence, the organizers of "Take Back Your Time Day" are asking U.S. workers to take a break.

So with that in mind, I decided to go with the McDonald's motto: "You deserve a break today".

After stopping at the bank and the post office, it was time to take back my time. I picked up a newspaper and drove to Fry's Electronics. I've never been to Fry's so early in the morning -- 10 A.M., to be exact. The parking lot was empty, and the store wasn't crowded. It made for a pleasurable shopping experience. I ended up buying a spindle of blank DVD-Rs.

After wandering around Circuit City, it was time for lunch. I decided to try Ono Hawaiian BBQ. I ordered the Chicken & Beef Combo, which consited of BBQ chicken, BBQ beef, macaroni salad, and steamed rice. Here is the menu, for your viewing pleasure. I enjoyed the combo, needless to say.

After stops at Target and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, I'm here in front of the computer writing about "Take Back Your Time Day". Guess I should mark this down on my calendar...

Wow, "Take Back Your Time Day" has its own website!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Seventeen Years Ago -- Loma Prieta Earthquake

Has it really been seventeen years since the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989? The answer is a resounding "YES".

A view of the hole left in the upper deck of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge after a section of it fell onto the lower deck. (Photo: Kurt Feichtmeir)

I remember the events of that afternoon very well. It was a Tuesday (just like today, eerily enough), and Game 3 of the World Series (dubbed the "Bay Bridge Series") between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park was about to start. I didn't have my television tuned to the game at the time because I was playing Mike Tyson Punch-Out!! on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). For those who want a glimpse of the game, watch this YouTube demonstration.

At 5:04 P.M., the big one (6.9 on the Richter scale) hit -- the epicenter in the Santa Cruz mountains. Everything shook, and the power went out. When the power came back on, those television stations which weren't knocked off the air had reporters scrambling to various sites. Santa Cruz took the full brunt of the destruction. Candlestick Park had some structural damage which caused the cancellation of the Game 3 and the postponement of the World Series. The Cypress Freeway in Oakland collapsed, as did the Bay Bridge.

By the way, if you weren't in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time, but you were following the World Series, you probably got to see this from ABC.

As the 6.6 earthquake in Hawaii took place, it is a chilling reminder of what happened 17 years ago today...

Friday, October 13, 2006

KFOG's 10 @ 10 -- Hits From Hell: No More?

Today is Friday the 13th. That would mean San Francisco radio station KFOG (104.5 FM / 97.7 FM) would air a special edition of 10 @ 10.

If you have never heard of that program, let me explain the format. Host Dave Morey plays ten songs from a particular year and intersperses soundbites from that era, complete with voiceovers from Monty Hall (from episodes way back when) and Don Pardo (in more recent times). However, on Friday the 13th, that format is set aside. Instead, ten tunes of questionable musical value but were hits on the Billboard charts are chosen, as a musical reminder of "how not to repeat the past".

The first time I heard "Hits From Hell", I remember these songs in the setlist (close to the original order the songs were actually played):

  • "I Think I Love You" - The Partridge Family
  • "Knock Three Times" - Dawn
  • "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" - William Shatner
  • "The Night Chicago Died" - Paper Lace
  • "Seasons In The Sun" - Terry Jacks
  • "Billy, Don't Be A Hero" - Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods
  • "You Light Up My Life" - Debby Boone
  • "Afternoon Delight" - Starlight Vocal Band
  • "Puttin' On The Ritz" - Taco
  • "Copacabana (At The Copa)" - Barry Manilow

Over the years, many other songs were chosen for the dubious honor for the "Hits From Hell" setlist. More examples:

  • "We Built This City" - Starship
  • "Rico Suave" - Gerardo
  • "Disco Duck" - Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots
  • "Ain't That A Shame" - Pat Boone
  • "Brand New Key" - Melanie
  • "Is That All There Is" - Peggy Lee
  • "Macarena" - Los Del Rio
  • "Shannon" - Henry Gross
  • "Morning Train (Nine To Five)" - Sheena Easton
  • "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" - John Denver
  • almost any Barry Manilow tune (in fact, they played a medley of his hits once)

However, when I turned on the radio today, the program wasn't a "Hits From Hell" special. What gives? Had the gimmick finally run its course? Since I missed the beginning and end of the segment, I may never know.

I just listened to the 10 P.M. replay, and there wasn't any explanation. However, when I checked the KFOG website, it appears that Dave Morey might have been on vacation and pre-taped a week's worth of 10 @ 10 episodes. So maybe this was a one-time deal...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tower Records, R.I.P.

On Friday, it was announced that the Tower Records chain was being sold to Great American Group, which in turn is liquidating its assets. Trans World Entertainment, which had hoped to continue operating at least some Tower stores, lost in its bid to purchase the chain. You can get more details from an Associated Press report (via the Washington Post).

An exterior view of a Tower Records store is seen in San Francisco, Friday, Oct. 6, 2006. After a lengthy auction stretching over two days, a federal bankruptcy judge on Friday approved sale of California-based Tower Records to Great American Group, which plans to liquidate the music retailer. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

It's a sad ending to a place (actually, places) I've spent many hours and many dollars during my middle school / high school / college years. When I moved from Florida to California, I learned about Tower Records. There wasn't any Tower Records in South Florida, so I was intrigued. The stores had a freebie magazine describing the new releases as well as interviews with musicians. The stores had a massive selection of any and everything, or so it seemed.

Over the years, the music formats changed, and Tower seemed to carry them all: vinyl records (LPs, 45s, 12"s); cassette tapes; compact discs; mini-discs; SACDs; HDCDs; etc.

Over the 2 decades I've known and frequented Tower Records, I saw the chain expand to more locations, then close some of the smaller locations. I've seen the freebie magazine (Pulse, it was called) end its publication. When the location closest to me closed, I would still make weekend drives to Tower Records locations.

In the end, decline in music sales, downloading of online music, and competition from big-box stores such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy led to the ultimate demise of Tower Records. However, for me, it was the price of gasoline breaking the $3 a gallon mark that ultimately stopped my trips to Tower Records. All of my descretionary spending now went to filling up my gas tank.

Apparently the entire Tower Records inventory is being discounted at this very moment. I will have to make at least one more trip back and say goodbye.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Let me introduce myself (kinda)

This blog is basically a dumping ground for things that are rattling around in my brain. The Hi-Fives tune "Welcome To My Mind" has a lyric that has an apt description: "I'd like to introduce to you the corners of my mind..."

So let me start by explaining the origins of the name of this blog. "Sitting Here Reminiscing" hails from a lyric from the Buddy Holly song "Reminiscing" (circa 1962). I learned of this song via a cover version by The Beatles from the 2-record set The Beatles Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg Germany; 1962. My copy of this album was the European edition, which had the following lineup:

    Side One:
  1. I Saw Her Standing There
  2. Roll Over Beethoven
  3. The Hippy Hippy Shake
  4. Sweet Little Sixteen
  5. Lend Me Your Comb
  6. Your Feet's Too Big

    Side Two:
  1. Twist And Shout
  2. Mr. Moonlight
  3. A Taste Of Honey
  4. Besame Mucho
  5. Reminiscing
  6. Kansas City / Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!

    Side Three
  1. Nothin' Shakin' (But The Leaves On The Trees)
  2. To Know Her Is To Love Her
  3. Little Queenie
  4. Falling In Love Again
  5. Ask Me Why
  6. Be Bop A Lula
  7. Hallelujah, I Love Her So

    Side Four
  1. Red Sails In The Sunset
  2. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
  3. Matchbox
  4. I'm Talking About You
  5. Shimmy Like Kate
  6. Long Tall Sally
  7. I Remember You

The American edition of the album omits "I Saw Her Standing There", "Twist And Shout", "Reminiscing", and "Ask Me Why". These tracks were replaced with "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)", "Where Have You Been", "Till There Was You", and "Sheila". But I digress.

Much like lounging around listening to records, I will be sitting here reminiscing for this blog.