Driving for Democrats

If you have to canvass for your local political entity of your choice, always have a driver.

It makes the work much more light. If you’re driving yourself, you have to drive, navigate, and plot the next course all at the same time. If you have a driver, you are free as navigator alone. It makes for a more effective campaign overall.

I know this because I am the driver.

My Dad is active in his local Democratic Party. You may recall I was tapped by him to march recently in their parade, touting Mendon Town Board candidates Erin Kehaley-Corr and Terry Daniele. During that parade, one of them told me how highly she thinks of my DOD for the work he does and for the man he is. I wholeheartedly agreed.

My Dad has always understood the importance of this work; something he learned from his Dad. I mean, it’s just 20 signatures for town board today, you might think. But this is the important work. This is where rubber meets road. And I’m glad to be chauffer for it.

Especially these days. Did you hear him?

“He’s new to government. So he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this,” said Paul Ryan.

Sorry, pal. Your man does not get a pass on that, not when he went around the country screaming bloody murder over President Clinton’s tarmac summit with then Attorney General Loretta Lynch. I mean, if it’s true that the Preznit is such a screw-up because he’s “new to this,” sit him down next weekend to binge-watch season one of “The West Wing.”

He’ll learn everything he needs to know.

I find it interesting how many people echo a reflection I’ve had regarding the passing this week of Adam West at age 88.

That Adam West was “my Batman.”

I think when I first saw the “Batman” show of the late sixties, it was at my friend Jason’s house. I was probably five or six years old. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I mean they opened up the bust like it’s a Pez dispenser and push a button, then they run back to the poles and slide down them and, somehow, by the time they reach the bottom, they’ve CHANGED CLOTHES?

Now I was always a Superman guy. Until I saw West and Burt Ward on the TV, I didn’t have much use for The Batman. It was these guys, and probably Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman and definitely Yvonne Craig’s Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, cha-cha-cha, that got me into the Bat.

Here’s to Adam West, the greatest to ever don the cowl.

Here’s a mind-blowing fact for you: Was visiting adopted grandparents today. Harry had switched to The Drew Carey Show. The episode centered on Drew’s girlfriend Nikki’s concerns that she was getting fat. I kept looking at her face and going, I know that face. I know that actress. I’ve seen that face emote some pretty heavy things. Who is she? Who is she? Who is she?

That was Kate Walsh.

Also known as Dr. Addison Montgomery (Shepherd) on Grey’s Anatomy.

Mind blown.


I don’t like shoelaces.

This is one of the odd clothing preferences I have come to by my middle age–the most recent addition to this is a preference for suspenders over belts, but we can discuss this another time. But the simple fact is that I don’t like shoelaces. I don’t understand the point.

I put my shoes on. Why do I have to do more stuff?

This preference is easy enough to address for day-to-day shoes. My current workaday shoe is a nice Tommy Bahama loafer. I have a pair of Rockports, too, which offer better support, but through the day they get itchy. The Tommy Bahamas are the preferred pair for my workday.

This is a generally more difficult preference for shopping for the athletic shoe.

It is, it’s difficult to find a nice walking shoe without laces. I mean, I’m a walker. I’m not going to be sprinting. Probably not ever again. I don’t need whatever support laces allegedly offer. And so I knew today I was going to be walking in a parade, so it seemed like a good day to go shoe shopping. But I knew what I was up against.

Dick’s Sporting Goods has a wall of shoes, and all of them have the laces. Except this pair of shoes. This one pair. I asked for a pair in my size. I tried them on and walked around.

The Skechers Go Flex Walk is the greatest walking shoe known to people.

I just wanted to mention it. Mom.

Here’s the only nice picture I got at our parade. Go, Mendon Democrats!

Mendon Democrats on parade

Boring Tech Note: Upgraded to Virtual Private Server

Adventures Into the Well-Known and other associated Web sites have now been upgraded to a virtual private server. This is a step up from shared hosting and should mean we’re zippier than before. Seems after nearly a dozen years of hosting with Dreamhost, I was at last pushing their resources to capacity. I was getting an internal network error every fourth time I tried to post or navigate within the console. Now much better. Go ahead. Click around. Enjoy the zippy zippy zippy.


My first job out of high school was as a busboy at a bar and grill just outside of Georgetown in Washington, D.C. This was not my choice exactly. I was trying to wrangle a job in a record store. But eventually the parent who was hosting me said that the deal was I was out of the high school now and was supposed to start experiencing this thing we call “working.” He said, hey, I know. Why don’t you go to Marshall’s West End?

My Dad tells this story differently. In his memory of this, I found this job busing tables all on my own, and it just happened to be at his favorite bar and grill in all the land.

But as I recall it, my DOD* was not going to have his son spend his post high-school summer in a feckless job hunt for a wussy job anyway, and so he directed me down to one of his favorite haunts where he knew the bartenders were excellent and would mentor me properly. I am eternally glad that he did. Because I got to work for Elliott.

What’s the voice I hear when I hear Elliott’s voice in my head? There’s an actor whose voice rings around there reminding me of what Elliott’s bark was. It’s a familiar voice, a black actor with a strong, solid voice, and I can’t think of his name now. But that was Elliott. My boss that summer was certainly authoritative. And he knew his business. My Dad and I just today were thinking about him, wondering whatever became of him, one of the best bartenders and finest men who ever walked.

The greatest thing Elliott did for me was to teach me the importance of being proactive for your chief. Anticipate when he will need a new tray of glasses and retrieve them from the dishwasher before he asks (this was a BIG one). Anticipate when the barkeep is ready to call it post-last-call and be ready to swoop down and steal peoples’ drinks from their hands. And, perhaps my most valuable lesson from this professor was something he simply called “ambience.”

I mean, all it involved was walking over to where the coffee station was and dimming the lights. But I can still hear Elliott the Bartender barking out “Yo, Aaron! Ambience!” If I was having a good night, my grubby mitts were already on the dimming switch before he asked. And, by the end of the summer, I had nothing but good nights. Elliott exhausted his exasperated trying to turn me into an enviable busboy. But he sure did it. I like to think he cried a little when I left to start college. In fact, he swore to me that I could go to college all I wanted to, but I’d never get the restaurant biz out of my blood.

He wasn’t wrong. I pine to feed people for a living to this day. Just not the path I ended up taking.

But my point here is to talk about ambience. And its importance. And how lost that appears to be on many entrepreneurs.

I heard the song “Rockin’ in Rhythm” recently. This is a Duke Ellington song that is, according to Wikipedia, “credited to Ellington, Harry Carney and Irving Mills.” The version I heard was much more up-tempo; the version I enjoy (from a “the Original Recordings” collection called “Mood Indigo” that has been my go-to Duke for decades) has a much more playful tempo and attitude. But, it was unmistakable, and I whistled right along.

Because I was at the time enjoying lunch with my DOD*. At Sticky Lips BBQ in downtown Rochester. I did something weird and possibly unheard of: I ordered a cheeseburger. It is a delicious, passable cheeseburger, though I doubt I’ll do it again in light of the more authentic offerings on the menu. However, I wouldn’t dissuade another person from doing it. And, P.S. The home-cut fries can do battle anywhere. Fantastic.

But the ambience though. We walked in the door and the dude at the display counter immediately welcomed us and directed us upstairs. And 1940s era jazz played, including the aforementioned Duke Ellington joint that I recognized. And the music was not too loud. It was perfect. And we enjoyed our lunch. And we tipped pretty well.

Now last weekend, DOD* and I were in a little town called Edinboro, Pa. And we first went into the little used book store because that’s my DOD’s gravity. And we went in. And they’re playing the local shitty country music station. And it’s kind of got static.

We went to the Edinboro Hotel for lunch. They didn’t have any music on. Nor did they have any really relevant games on the TV. They had golf on. Golf.

So there is actually a Mexican restaurant in Edinboro. Weird. And their food is good. The chicken is marinated and delicious. It’s not bad for “Tex-Mex” fare. But. The ambience.

We walked in and went to the bar. They have a fabulous bar. Full-on island style. It is one of the reasons I like the place. Most Mexican places have shitty bars. This one is an entire island, with many spacious seats. It should be the most packed bar in Edinboro. But it’s like. Empty.

On a Saturday night.

We gringos were the only ones there. Besides somebody’s kid, who is sitting in the corner, entertaining himself with a coloring book or some such thing.

I noticed on the TV facing us, playing at a medium volume, was a network showing of one of the Smurf movies. On a TV not facing us, there is some Spanish program blaring. Nobody is actually tending bar, instead, a waitress is coming back and forth to take our orders and check up on us.

Now my DOD* and I are sort of frustrated restaurateurs. Could we afford it, and had we collectively the patience for it, the restaurant business certainly calls to us. So we were curious and asked the waitress if business ever picked up for this place. Tuesdays, she said. Taco Tuesdays.

The food was fine, passable Mexican fare; in fact, I recommend a chicken dish there as the pollo is nicely marinated. But these folks failed miserably on ambience, and I think their business showed it.

I mean, ambience doesn’t cost anything. But it sure can bring dollars through the door.

*Dear Old Dad

Postscript: I still have a mix tape Elliott the bartender provided me with, called “More Stuff,” apparently created on Aug. 7, 1987. Here is what a mix tape from one of the best bartenders who ever walked the planet looks like:

“You Are the Woman” by Firefall
“Don’t Cross the River” by America
“Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band
“Sit Yourself Down” by Steven Stills
“Monday Morning” by Fleetwood Mac
“Good Enough” by Bonnie Raitt
“Give Me an Inch” by Robert Palmer
“Empty Pages” by Traffic
“You Love the Thunder” by Jackson Browne
“Goin’ Back to Miami” by Blues Brothers
“Come on Up” by Young Rascals
“The Shape I’m In” by The Band
“Baba O’Riley” by The Who

“Badge” by Cream
“Aqualung” by Jethro Tull
“Too Many Names” by Eagles
“I Came to Dance by Niles Lofgren
“Fire on the Bayou” by Neville Brothers
“Pressure Drop” by Robert Palmer
“Love Her Madly” by The Doors
“Suffragette City” by David Bowie
“Keep on Growin’” by Derek & the Dominos
“Tell Me Why” by the Beatles

La La La Tee Hee Hee

It’s one of those days where I left work today having learned something, having gotten one step closer to comprehending the subject matter with which I work. Wait. I was thinking that Active Directory is this cute little service in a little box that sits on Microsoft Exchange’s shoulder and whispers in its ear. You’re telling me it’s actually a behemoth? That it’s global, domain-wide, and actually runs like at least five vital services and authenticates every transaction that goes across the server?


Well. Knowing that is going to help a little.

That is what I like the best about a job like mine. I can end a day calling it a success if I learned something new or if I realized during a phone call that I am actually mastering this.

Now at my first job at this concern, I was at that point in six months. But I had a severe background in HTML monkey work already. That was easy. I’ve been at this a year plus, and I still spend much of my time feeling like a six-year-old in a Pascal class. But I took two calls today and am starting to feel like less of an idiot on the phone with these admins. Maybe they were just being nice. Or maybe my gray matter is actually soaking in these abstract architectures. I mean when that guy today said he wanted to check his Java logs and I was like “yeah, you’ll go to the Event Viewer” and he was already going to the Event Viewer, I mean, my inner Alex Trebek was nodding and smiling. I like that.

Today, I am more competent than the White House Press Secretary.

“Sean Spicer is a profoundly stupid liar working for a profoundly stupid liar.” (Lawrence O’Donnell)

I have tonight gone the gamut on the TV; watched the Rachel Maddow on SlingTV, then tried to watch The Voice. It is horrible. Just horrible. I have no words to explain the horrible. So I have gone to Herbie Mann record I have around because my dear Mother recently bequeathed me all the vinyl she owned. And generally, I am not a Herbie Mann guy, at least not in the studio. His live albumes are fanastic. But this Windows Opened album is nice.

So that’s how I’m spending the last of my April 11. How about you?

Even Auto Mechanics Have Tough Troubleshooting Issues

Customer states check engine light on. Install SOP part. P0411 sec. air flow incorrect. Traced fault to a restriction in the cylinder head. No cylinder head available. TAC sent engine. Went to replace the engine. Went to replace engine. Had old one out when I found out TAC had sent the wrong engine. Called TAC again and they instructed me on how to clean air ports in head. Cleaned sec air injector ports then reinstalled engine. Verified fix.

That was my last week or two. How you doin’?