Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bygone Era: The Prank Phone Call

Oh, this post "rang" so true with me. You see, I was once a mischievous youth. I know, I know--You can't picture it, this completely shocks you! But alas, it is true. My neighbor friend and I would spend hours dialing up unsuspecting people and subjecting them to our vocal talents.

Ahh, those were the good old days. We never did anything malicious or mean spirited (at least in our opinion). Many of our calls during summer months were to businesses where we would ask outlandish questions to see how they would respond, i.e., "Yes, an in-ground pool. No, no... I don't want it in the backyard. I want it in the front, with half of it in the garage with a partition I can swim under."

My favorite, however, was to don an Australian accent and state that I was an international operator with AT&T. We would crinkle some paper next to the microphone to make "static".

Me: "G'Day! I'm AT&T international operator #477. I have a collect call from Danny in Melbourne. Will you accept the charges?"

Them: "No! No!" (the usual answer).

Me: "I'm sorry, sir, this is a bad connection. Will you accept the charges?"

Them: "NO! I don't know anyone in Australia!"

Me: "Okay, one moment while I put the call through."

Me, different voice, same accent: "Hello, Uncle Taddy? Is that you?"

Them: CLICK or "Uhh, I said NO!"

We recorded most of our phone calls, which I now realize was illegal under Federal wiretapping laws, or some such regulation otherwise designed to protect peoples' privacy. 20/20 hindsight. We'd play back the "best-of" calls to entertain ourselves.

And, like the post above points out, this is a lost "art". Caller-ID has marked the end of an era.

Probably for the best. ;)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

States Where I've Been

Create your own visited states map

First of all, HT to the Probative Blog for pointing me to the map creator.

Here are the states that I have been to, at least those I remember. It's possible I have been to North Dakota, but it was a wild weekend so I can't tell for sure (age 4). I have photographic evidence of me standing in front of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

In college, my roommate and I used to keep a map of where we had been in the states. Our general rule was that airport layovers didn't count (so New York remains unvisited on my map, despite a few layovers at La Guardia, and Minnesota doesn't make the cut because I've never actually breathed air outside the MSP terminal). We had a rule of thumb that to qualify as having "visited" a state, you needed to have done one of the following:

(A) spent the night--outside of an airport
(B) ate a meal--outside of an airport
(C) at a minimum, purchased a beverage--outside of an airport

That prompted us to drive, one cold evening, to Franklin, Idaho (a suburb of Preston). We stopped at La Tienda, each bought a soda, then jumped in the car and headed back to Utah. I have since returned to Idaho countless times, but that quick trip qualified checking Idaho off the list.

A few notes about my current map:

  • I wonder if Arizona really counts, given the above rules. I've been through the Phoenix airport a time or two. And I've driven I-15 from St. George to Las Vegas at least three times. So, you decide whether that counts or not. I don't recall purchasing a beverage in Arizona, but I'm sure I had a bottled water with me.
  • It's obvious from this map that my half dozen or so trips to Boston have been by air.
  • I have always wanted to visit Seattle. Unfortunately my trip to Washington state was by car from Portland into the Middle of Nowhere, WA--for a wedding reception. I did spend the night, and ate at least two meals.
  • I think I've seen all there is to see in Nevada. It didn't take long.
  • My fondest memories of visiting Omaha, NE involve hunkering in the basement during an F3 tornado. Dinner with our hosts started off so nice, then the sirens started wailing and the rest of the evening was eventful, to say the least.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Playing Hooky

Today was hot. When I got into my car after work, the in-dash thermometer read 102 degrees. It cooled off to a balmy 98 after I pulled out of the parking garage.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, Anne mentioned that she was taking the kids to the new Air and Space Museum, which has an official name that no one can ever remember. We took the kids there back in January or February when they had a day off of school. They were excited to be going back.

I, however, was headed for a day at the office, When I got to work, and it was obvious it was going to be a slow day. About 10:15, I called Anne and we made plans to meet up outside the museum. We spent a couple of hours looking around, got lunch, they headed home, and I went back to work. I was surpise how much they remembered from our previous visit. "Isn't that the F-14 Tomcat?" "I wanna see the Black Widow!" "That long skinny one is called the Concorde." etc. etc.

So, given the choice between a boring day at work, or a day watching your kids "Ooooh" and "ahhh" over the relics of aviation history, I heartily recommend the latter.