139 Comments

Sweda.

I have received a couple of e-mails because I haven’t blogged in a few days. Nothing is wrong, but I live by the philosophy that you shouldn’t type it into a computer if you don’t want it to appear on the front page of the New York Times. Life outside of work has been good but work has been very hectic and right now it would be best if I didn’t vent needlessly on that right now. All is well. Now onto my scheduled programming.

Behind this suave and irresistibly cute exterior lies the heart of a geek. I have always been a geek. I have always found interest in the things that most find mundane. Much of my geek focus is on technology and my love of computers, however, I was geek long before computers were commonplace, and one of my early interests (that eventually led me to computers) was cash registers.

Standing in line at your favorite supermarket and other store today is a relatively quiet experience, aside from the bad sounding muzak, bellows of price check requests over the PA system and the cry of a cranky baby. One hardly notices the sound of the cash register these days, aside from the confirmation beep of a successful scanning of an item. However, when I was a kid, the same atmosphere was augmented by the sounds of the mechanical cash registers. There was no scanning, there was rarely change computation and there was no self-service checkout lane.

Back in the day a usually nice clerk or cashier rang up your order on a big mechanical adding machine with a drawer attached. Some were even lucky to keep working if the power went out, they just attached a crank to the side and did the same thing with a little bit of elbow grease.

I have always had an interest in mechanical cash registers. I discovered them very early on in my childhood. I noticed that the big NCR cash registers at the P & C (grocery store) were the same as the cash registers at the Mattydale K-mart. I noticed that the registers at the new (at the time) Ames store were the same as the ones at Westons Department Store except Ames had three rows of department keys and Westons only had two. The theory behind their operation was the same and by third or fourth grade I pretty much had it figured out how to work these registers. Without looking at the checkstands I could tell by the sound of the register if it was made by NCR or Sweda. Swedas were my favourite. They ‘sounded’ crisper and a little more modern. Back in 2005, Earl and I were visiting a market in Toronto with our friends Steve and Tim and over the sounds of the open air type vendor thing they had going on, I heard the distinct sound of a Sweda cash register. I said to Earl, “I know that sound” and I led him over to where I heard it and proudly said, “see, it’s a Sweda cash register.”

He didn’t think I was crazy, he just grinned in the way he does when he knows he has a geek for a husband.

Now I have had my school clock collection going for 10 or 11 years. It’s working brilliantly, all the clocks look great and I had the variety I wanted to collect from the specific manufacturer that I had my eye on (The Standard Electric Time Company of Springfield, Mass.) A couple of weeks ago I decided that it was time to move into another hobby – the restoration of a mechanical cash register made by Sweda. I took a look on ebay and found one reasonably priced that wasn’t located too far away. These registers really can’t be shipped because they’re way too heavy.

Today we took a drive into the Catskill Mountains and picked up the first (of several?) cash register for my restoration project.

Introducing my Sweda Model 46.

DSC04430.JPG

This register is nearly identical to the register that was used at the locally owned “Red and White” supermarket that was down the street from my parents’ house. I’m guessing it was manufactured sometime in the mid 1960s. It needs some work and it’s missing the key that unlocks the journal tape but other than that it’s a good way to tinker and learn a little bit about these machines. And it’s wicked heavy.

I have had it here at the house for about an hour and I just figured out how to route the receipt tape so that it shoots out when the drawer opens. It’s adding everything correctly and seems to be mechanically sound. It can be used electrically or by crank but I haven’t tried the crank yet.

This is my new project that will take me off the grid and away from technology for the times when my brain needs to defrag. I’m very excited about it.

I’m a very excited geek tonight.

DSC04435.JPG

2 Comments

Skip.

I have been home from work all day as I awoke this morning feeling really stuffed up and lethargic. I was able to sneak in a couple of hours of extra sleep and once I rebooted, I felt better. A long shower certainly helped. I think my brain needed to defrag or something.

I have been playing it low-key for most of the day, working on projects that have been on my to-do list for the past couple of months. I also kept abreast of the Apple announcement this afternoon. Ta da, it’s the Apple iPad.

Sorry, but I am underwhelmed. And I’m going to be skipping this product.

First of all, from what I have read from numerous sources, it looks like it’s little more than an oversized iPod Touch. Now I know some rumours suggested that it was going to end earthquakes, contain tornadoes and bring about world peace, but even the realistic rumours pointed to something a little more than this. Fans of the new product are boasting that it has built in GPS, something that most netbooks don’t, but are you really going to prop at 10-inch screen up on your windshield so it can tell you how to get from point A to point B?

Secondly, perhaps I’m more than a little juvenile but I can not bring myself to say iPad without a snicker. It’s just funny sounding to me and it sounds like it belongs in the grocery aisle that I avidly avoid at all costs. iPad. Giggle.

I really thought Apple would announce an update to the iPhone software or something in addition to this tablet device that the news outlets have been blathering on about, but from what I saw today, this is it. iPad. Snicker. Put it in the MacBook Air category.

1 Comment

Warm.

When I woke up this morning the meteorologist on the local NPR station announced that it was 56 degrees and that we were under a flash flood warning. 56 degrees. In January. In Upstate New York.

That’s not a common thing in these parts.

During my commute I noticed that about 30% of the drivers on the road were bundled up in parka-like apparel and driving like the roads were covered in the ever allusive ‘black ice’. Apparently they didn’t have their radio on or just weren’t completely aware of their surroundings, because as I mentioned before, it was 56 degrees. One surly looking woman still managed to fog up her windows.

While it has been dark and gloomy most of the day today, I have to say that the unseasonably warm temperatures (it was around 50 when I went to lunch) were quite nice. I have been combating my yearly fight with SAD by taking Vitamin D tablets. Those little pebble like capsules are like a little dose of sunshine because I have certainly felt a sunnier disposition this winter. I don’t know if it’s the Vitamin D, the warm temperatures or just my determination not to get all winter blah like but nevertheless I’m enjoying winter thus far.

It’s easy to do when it’s in the mid 50s.

2 Comments

Lawless.

New York State has a new law going into effective on February 22. This law has to do with young drivers; beginning on that date a “junior license” (for those between the ages of 16-18) will require that only one non-family member under the age of 21 will be allowed to ride in the vehicle with the driver if not accompanied by a parent or guardian. I believe that law also calls for the new driver to have a permit for six months before getting a license. So if you want to take your friends to the movies to celebrate that you got your license that day, you can’t. It will be illegal.

This issue doesn’t affect me in any way. But this new law still makes me angry. I think it’s wasted legislation, which is the result of wasted tax money and time that was used in dreaming up this new law.

Here’s the thing. First of all, I don’t know how any cop is going to be able to determine the age of all passengers, let alone the fact of whether they are related or not, when he or she spots a car passing him at 55 MPH. And how are you going to prove if they are related? There’s halves, steps, adopted and many other ways to be related. Are they going to give a blood test right there on the shoulder of the ride to determine if everyone has matching DNA? What if a young couple is double dating with another and going to the movies on a Saturday afternoon? None of them are related. If this is just a law that is going to be applied as an additional offense to something else, then don’t waste my time and just admit that you don’t give a flip about the safety of the passengers, you just want their money. When do we reach the point that because of the saturation of legislation that the people just say fuck it and no longer care if something is “against the law” or not?

Then we have the “must wait six months before getting a license” aspect of it. This is clearly legislation based on downstate ideals again. There are many young drivers upstate that have a pretty good idea of how to use a motor vehicle and are chomping at the bit to turn age 16 so they can drive legally. I was driving my father’s truck, my mother’s car, a tractor, a forklift and a dump truck (but not all at the same time!) all over family owned property (and other places) starting around age 13. Yes, I waited eight months to get my license at the insistence of my mother who wisely decreed that I would have to drive through the winter on my permit before getting my license. But that was a determination that my parents made, not the law. And that was the right way to approach the subject. My parents did the parenting! Not the State of New York.

Not to sound too overly morbid or insensitive, but all of these laws designed to coddle and control the people are preventing the natural order of thinning of the herd. It’s a fake safety blanket to make people feel better and of course it also generates voter support and revenue.

Don’t waste my time, don’t waste my money and sure as shit don’t try to control me.

Interactive.

Wow. It’s been a few days since I’ve written in my blog. I seem to be saying that a little more often lately. I suppose if I wrote a newspaper column or something a rerun of a fan favourite or maybe even an ad for roofing would appear in this space.

I have ramped back on my online and social networking habits quite a bit over the past few days. I have whittled my participation down to a few select venues. I haven’t been on Facebook in a week, though I have quite a few requests for various things such as sharing my cows, throwing snowballs and dancing the funky chicken. If you’re reading this on Facebook it’s because my blog and Facebook like to get down once a night and compare notes. I even ramped back on the gay sites, focusing only on those that have featured me in a video or photo spread. I’ll pause while you ponder as to whether I’m kidding or not.

The ramping down of my online chatter has been enlightening. Instead of trying to catch up on hours of daily podcasts and the like and instead I do things like tonight I actually enjoyed just watching television with the family and doing some reading on my Kindle. I also downloaded a bunch of music solely for my enjoyment (instead of for performance as DJ SuperCub). I feel like the stress of the day has melted away. Getting away from the computer for a little bit, or at least using it for entertainment instead of something intense, has allowed my mind to take a break. It has been good.

1 Comment

Gay.

With the New Year well underway I am proud to say that I have been working out again on a more regular basis and I’m starting to feel the results of my hard work. I don’t know if you can see any changes yet but I certainly feel better and that’s what’s most important to me.

The increase in gym time has created a little bit of a dilemna. Being a kid at heart, I was watching episodes of “Josie and the Pussycats” on my iPhone while doing cardio. I love the show and it’s probably one of my favorite cartoons of all time. Unfortunately, not that many episodes were made and I have a hard time with “Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space” so I found myself without any episodes to watch. I decided to go campy and last night I started watching the first season of “Alice”. Tonight I watched the second episode of season one, “Alice Gets A Pass”.

I don’t remember this episode from when I was a kid.

In this episode, Alice starts to date an old college friend of Mel’s. Said friend is a pro-football player turned actor. He’s good looking in a mid 1970s way (the episode originally aired 9/29/1976) and I remember the actor from being a thug on that Wonder Woman episode with the mean flute player played by Martin Mull. He also played a football player on “I Dream of Jeannie” towards the very end of the series.

Anyways, Alice goes out with this guy a couple of times and tries really hard in a tame-1976 way to get him to get more romantic with her when he tells her something she didn’t expect: he’s gay. Her first reaction is “Are you sure you’re not just jolly?” He assures her that he’s not and that he’s really gay and he’s happy that they can be friends. The big dilemma of the episode is that Alice had asked him to take Tommy on a fishing trip and now she’s not sure if she should let Tommy go with the gay guy. Again, you can tell that it’s from the mid 1970s with some of the gay jokes and the whole “will he be inappropriate with Tommy” thing that is briefly touched upon but on the whole I think the episode was sort of groundbreaking for it’s day. I have always thought that Linda Lavin was cool with the whole gay thing, being that she got her start and continued to be in theatre and all, so in a way I’m not surprised that the subject was explored on the series but I have to admit that I was surprised that it was explored in the *second* episode of the entire show (and the first episode for Philip McKeon to play Tommy).

All in all I found the episode to make my cardio workout fly right by. Naturally the ending credits theme song is a good way to finish up, especially when you sing along with the “fa fa fa fa fa” so all in all I’m happy that I jumped onto Alice to be my next short-cardio workout series1.

It’s a shame that only season one is on iTunes. And believe it or not, whilst Linda Lavin sang nearly 10 versions of the theme song over the years, there is a specific version from the second season that I like best. I’m trying to find it but I haven’t been successfully lately. It’s buried on YouTube somewhere.

1 For longer cardio workouts, I prefer “Xena: Warrior Princess”, in case you’re wondering.

1 Comment

Errands.

So yesterday I took the afternoon off from work to catch up on some errands that were neglected during my recent bout of on-call. Oddly, I found relaxation in this.

First on the list was the chore of picking up some needed non-food items. I hate going to the grocery store and I wasn’t in the mood to wrestle my way into the mall to visit our only Target, so I decided to honor my childhood and venture a visit to K-mart. I had my new Sears/K-mart rewards card and everything. As a quick aside, I think the new card should be blue, but it is not.

K-mart, alas poor K-mart, what has happened to thee?

Before the big store of Ames moved into our little farm town in 1978, we would go shopping at one of two K-marts near Syracuse. The primary choice was K-mart across from the “Northern Lights” shopping center. Said store is still there today and she’s holding up pretty good. If we didn’t go to the Northern Lights store we went to the Western Lights (such a copy cat) store on the west side of the city. That store was a little bigger than the Northern Lights store and for some reason I remember eating in that cafeteria in the back of the store but I don’t remember eating in the cafeteria in the Northern Lights store. As a K-mart kid (we didn’t have the money to afford Sears or anything like that), I found some comfort in the old fashioned green and orange “SSK” stacked logo in the back of the store where it said “S.S. Kresge Corp”.

Back to yesterday. I went to our local K-mart (ahem, it’s a Big “K”) and joined the four other people that were milling around the vast emptiness of the store. Two of the seven checkouts (numbered two through eight) were open. The cafeteria is long gone and I noticed that the K-mart Cafe at front, where you would find nachos, popcorn and pretzels has been boarded up as well. The Pharmacy in the corner is gone. On a bright note, the Christmas Tree decorations display is still up and fully functional. In between these observations is vast, open space with empty shelves. I thought the store was going out of business. I even checked at the service desk. It’s not going out of business, it’s just business as usual.

Wow. So sad. I still say that K-mart started dying when they did that whole crazy “Big K” thing and they should have stayed familiar (yet attempted to update their stores) with the American public by just modernizing the old red and turquoise logo like Australia did.

Old logo
Kmart19631990Logo.PNG.png

Australia logo
kmart.jpg

K-mart didn’t have half of what I was looking for so I stopped at a local Walgreens and found everything else. After Walgreens I went to the local Army Navy store with the intent of buying a new pair of black combat boots. My current boots are tipping six years old and have little in the way of support in them. Browsing through the shoe department I found the perfect pair of combat boots. Then I found an awesome pair of logger boots. And THEN I found a pair of military style dress shoes. I asked for all three in the same size and tried them on.

All three fit like a glove. They were wonderful.

“Which ones are you buying?”, asked the relatively helpful salesperson.

I thought for a moment and said “all of them”. You see, earlier in the day I had picked up the Jeep from getting four new tires, so I figured if the Jeep had new treads I should have new treads too. I risked the chance that Earl would kill me for spending the money; he opted to just glare instead of draw blood.

There’s my spending for the year.

Reaching Out.

Courtesy of my dear friend Christine via Twitter:

Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to @RedCross relief efforts in #Haiti.

Screen shot 2010-01-13 at 12.54.19 PM.png

It adds the donation to your cell phone bill.

Sliced.

When I spin at clubs I tend to play older dance music from the 70s, 80s and 90s in the early part of the evening. I have a rock solid memory when it comes to the dance music charts, especially from 1983 or so until the early 2000s and I pride myself on being able to play those tracks that fill the floor because they haven’t been heard in a long while. This is all dependent on the crowd, of course, but back in the day I always knew I was doing a good job with the early night music when Brad, a tall, stately old queen of a man would throw his hand up in the air in a very stage commanding way as he mouthed the words to the song whilst sipping his very metropolitan looking drink and chatting with his friends.

One of the things I used to enjoy doing in radio was making station exclusive edits of popular tracks and putting them into the music rotation. This was accomplished by literally splicing tape; I would use a four track, a grease pencil, a razor blade and special tape to rearrange, remove or double up the verses of select tracks. I wasn’t really interested in remixing the song to the point of non-recognition but rather I liked extending the track a little bit or doing what I could to make the song sound familiar yet different in a way.

When I put the studio back together a couple of weeks ago I came up with some ideas to freshen up some old tracks once again using the more modern methods I have available to me now. Tonight I returned to the realm of the “Cub Slice” and freshened up a dance floor staple.

For your enjoyment, from 1983 here is “Borderline (Cub Slice Re-Edit)” by Madonna.

Click on the “MP3 icon” to listen.Click on this link to listen. Right-click on this link to download.

The track is for promo use only.