Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Amusement Park That Wasn't?

Six and a half years ago my wife and I arrived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and we began our journey to become southerners. Last week I had the opportunity to stand in from of the Myrtle Beach welcome sign and get my picture taken as you see below.  A number of tourists have their picture taken in front of the sign, so now I am officially welcome in Myrtle Beach.


This week I discovered that the amusement park I had heard that wasn't built in 2008, it actually was built and failed twice, in 2008 and 2009.  I was getting an oil change and taking a walk around the building when I veered off to a very large empty parking lot and figured that this was where the park would have been built.  My service rep surprised me when he said it was built and I looked it up and here's what I found out.

The first park that opened in 2008 was Hard Rock Park and when it failed five months later due to financial problems, it reopened in May 2009 with the name of Freestyle Music Park.  The parks were built on 55 acres which I had just walked through some of it.  It also failed that year due to financial problems and lawsuits.


There were five roller coaster rides and the names of the different places were all about music, such as  The Led Zeppelin roller coaster, a Nights in White Satin ride, Life in the Fast Lane roller coaster and a Moody Blues ride and many others.  I think the picture below is the Led Zeppelin ride.  The Eagles and The Moody Blues performed on opening day. The water in this picture is nowhere to be found today.



The park was filled with unusual and amusing things.  One person commented on a video of the empty park before it was destroyed, "There was a fountain at The Hard Rock Cafe and if you ran your fingers through the water streams, it would play like a guitar."  Another person said, "There was a statue of a cow and when it saw you, it disrespected you and then sprayed water at you."  They had a British Invasion section and below is the large picture of  The Abbey Road studios that The Beatles made famous.  Tourists still go to this intersection in London and mimic The Beatles Abbey Road cover. It looks pretty real.



Today, all that remains is a couple large parking lots and a very large Fed-Ex facility.  Below is a diagram of what it once was in 2008-2009.




Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Positive Bus Driver

Each day I go out to Uber I have passengers who are amazed at what they see in my car.  Yes, there is money from 54 countries, a mannequin from a salon owner, and a picture of a Super Bowl ring that a woman who works for the Kansas City Chiefs let me put on my finger.  

It all started with a few New York sports caps and then one positive message.  At the beginning of the pandemic, spring of 2020, I saw a sign on John Krasinski's television show, "Some Good News." He's known for being on the television show, "The Office," but I got this from one of the eight positive shows he did of "Some Good News." The sign said, "If You Can't Find The Sunshine, Be The Sunshine."  

The sign was perfect for a positive show during the pandemic, but it was perfect for my car also. Being "The Sunshine Man," I printed those words on orange paper and hung it up. I was surprised how many people mentioned it and took pictures of the sign.  When I got a bill from the South Sudan, I hung it up because of the feedback I got from my sign.

During the past year, a school bus driver in Florida has turned his vehicle into something positive for the kids he drives. Anthony Burgess, asked his students to write down their favorite quotes and inspiring messages.  He said, "I wanted the bus to be a more positive place for the children and for myself."



Some of the comments posted are, "Your mindset can change everything, " "Prove them wrong," and from Walt Disney, "If you can dream it, you can do it." The students have also turned in comments from their bus driver as words that have inspired them.

One student wrote, "The world is brighter because you're in it-Mr. Anthony." I'm not the only driver who spreads sunshine in their vehicle and my sign is still in my car and passengers still comment on it.

How do you spread your sunshine?


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

What If Leaf Blowers Were Quiet?

The other day I was taking a walk in my neighborhood.  It was 7:30 am. and someone in the neighborhood was using a trimmer. I guess he didn't think anyone was sleeping or he didn't care if he woke anyone up? What if the trimmer made a lot less noise? How about a leaf blower?

Four engineering students at John Hopkins University have reduced the sound of a leaf blower by about 40% and almost eliminated the worst sounds.  They are waiting for a patent to go through and Stanley Black & Decker has agreed to sell their model.  It could be in stores in two years.

Explaining how they did it is not my area of expertise, however, they took a leaf blower completely apart and analyzed all the different sounds and eliminated some of them.  The leaf blower now sounds more like the wind.




It's pretty incredible what great minds can do working together.  The undergraduate students, Michael Chacon, Madison Morrison, Andrew Palacio, and Leen Alfaoury, should be congratulated for their achievement.

Do you think they could start working on a drill that the dentist uses? What a difference that would make!




Sunday, June 9, 2024

When Your Printer Goes on The Blink

As most of you know technology is not my thing.  When something goes wrong I am quickly looking for any kind of tech support. I turned on my printer and printed one page.  It came out perfectly and as I sat down in front of my computer, I reached behind the printer and pressed it  to shut it off and I sat down.

I didn't look to see if it shut off. There's usually a slight delay and it goes off.  A couple minutes later I looked at my printer while I was sitting there and it looked like something was blinking.  I stood up and all the lights were blinking as it would on a pinball machine.

I've seen it happen on a pinball machine, but a printer?  My wife wasn't available so I figured I could handle this myself. This is what I did:

1. I attempted to shut the printer off, once, twice and more than three times.  Still, the printer was blinking as if I had won a free game.

2. I opened the paper holder, moved the paper, shut the door, and still my printer was blinking rapidly.  I tried to shut the printer off again with no luck.

3. Being the technical genius I am, I grabbed my phone and took a picture so you could see the printer blinking.  This is the picture, but you'll have to use your imagination on the blinking.


4. There are two chords connected to the printer, so I unplugged one and still there was no change.  

5. I attempted to pull out the second one and concluded it was meant to be there. Still, I was watching my pinball printer in front of me. 

6. I decided to pull the plug which was on the floor.  All the wires are black and I was wishing for the red one like they have on a bomb so I could pull that one. After several visits to the floor and standing up, I pulled the correct plug and there finally was no more lights flashing.

7. I put the chord back in and shut the computer off, should I turn it on again?

8. I waited thirty minutes so it could rest and I turned it on. 

9. There was no blinking and I turned the printer off without a problem.

What are the chances of it working the next time I try to print? I'm going to wait a few days.



Tuesday, June 4, 2024

MY MOST MEMORABLE RIDER COMMENTS FROM MAY

I asked the young guy from New York, "What are you doing in town?" He said, "I'm here for the women, it's bike week." Me: "Women come here for bike week?" He: "Oh yeah, and I'm going to take them from the bikers."

He: "My wife took me to China and we went to her home town. I was the only non-Asian there and they were taking pictures of me. We were in a KFC and there was a glass wall and they were filming me on the other side."

She: "Dollar General has 20,000 stores in this country and they do two billion dollars in gift card sales. They are trying to take over the world."

I asked the couple from New York how they met: She: "He chased me for five years." He: "I was at the dentist office and I was getting a needle and she was the head nurse.  I told her I wasn't comfortable and asked her to hold my hand.  I took three extra needles so she could hold my hand longer. I would have taken 25 more for her to be with me the rest of my life."

From upper state New York she said, "I hurt my rotator cuff.  I'm 105 pounds and I was throwing 75 pound logs down a hill."

She said about her friend next to her, "We've known each other since fifth grade, unfortunately by 7th grade she didn't get the message I didn't like her."

She told her friend, "If someone at work tells me I don't look good, I tell them, you don't look good either."

The guy from Colorado said, "Boulder is a college town, pretty crazy. When they filmed the television show, "Mork and Mindy" in Boulder, (Robin Williams as an alien), it was because they thought it was one of the few places in the country an alien could live without being noticed."

Giving me an amazing bill from Hungary since he was there this week, he said, "On the back is a picture of the famous prison where Count Dracula was held." (Actually Vlad the Impaler, responsible for 20,000 deaths, was held for 14 years at Tolat Castle, not this one.)

"My friend never knew when his birthday was. We went to the cemetery and found out that his brother who died of SIDS fifteen days after being born, died on my friends real birthday and his parents couldn't celebrate a birthday on that day."

She said, "Today was Cinquo De Drinko." She told me she made the name up, but the first rider I mentioned it to had heard it before.

Expecting her second child in March of 2020, her doctor told her that her husband might not be able to be in the room for the birth, because of a virus spreading.  She told her, "I can't do it without him." She was induced a week earlier and two days later the world closed down for COVID.

 He: "I live in Colts Neck, NJ, about five minutes from Bruce Springsteen and about fifteen minutes from Jon Bon Jovi." I told him I grew up with and knew David Bryan, the keyboard player for Bon Jovi and is real last name is Rashbaum. He said, "My friend recently took me to David Bryan's birthday party."

He: "I go back to Chicago in the winter because I like cold places."

She: "I run one hundred rental properties in South Carolina.  It keeps me busy."

She owned a cosmetics company for 23 years and did over $200,000 in sales in a small area. I asked her what her secret was and she said, "Love what you do and the money will come.

"In Prague, they have golden chariots above the buildings, it's beautiful."

From Florida, the rider said about the people in Florida, "We have no redeeming qualities."

In Isle of Palms, one of the wealthiest areas in South Carolina, he said, "I'm not feeling the poverty here."

I told the Minnesota family that I've had so many great rides with people from Minnesota.  He replied, "We're just boring people."

I told my fellow New York Giant fan that I rooted for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl for the first half since I was watching with a friend who was an Eagle fan.  At halftime I went home and rooted against the Eagles who are rivals of the Giants and I said, "I'm the reason they lost."  He replied, "Thank you for your service."

The three women from Boston were upset they had nothing to give me to display in my car. One woman said, "Can I give you a water bottle?" Another woman said, "Would you like to hear my seagull impression?" I recorded her and the Boston Seagull is being enjoyed by other riders.

Hearing the Boston Seagull, the woman from Arizona started laughing and told me, "I'm known as the Dolphin Caller and I can use my call to gather as many as fifty dolphins." I recorded her and she's really good and riders enjoy it.

After hearing my "Boston Seagull" and "Arizona Dolphin Caller", the young woman heading to Home Depot to work, said, "I'm going to be a lot happier at work today after hearing them."


SOME MORE COMMENTS

She: "I take pictures of my Ubers."

"In New York I saw subway rats that were as big as rottweilers."

He: "The best tasting pineapples that Dole has are the ones that fall to the ground and they don't use."

"Living in South Carolina I saved 24 years of property taxes from living up north."

Her advice was, "Don't put off medical problems."

He: "My mom's advice was to expand my horizons and don't give up."

As the older man got in my car I said, "How are you today?" He replied, "I'm getting younger every day."

He: "When I look at the ocean there's a sense of bliss and peace."

She asked, "Are you doing a sequel of the book?" Me: "I don't know, but I do have a seagull for the sequel."

Picking up three woman from Ireland now living in New York, they had leftovers from Lewis's barbecue and they said, "Would you like some?" I politely said no and they were genuinely disappointed.

She: "Going to the College of Charleston was the best four years of my life."

She: "The Grand Cayman Islands were wonderful."

He owns a couple t-shirt stores and said, "Every year the profits get worse."

He: "I'm an arborist." They plant, maintain, care for and diagnose trees.

She: "I used to be the executive secretary for the original Mr. Coffee."

She: "I'm a philanthropy consultant."

He: "I'm a retired sea captain."



COMMENTS ABOUT LILY MY MANNEQUIN

He: "Friends of ours bought my wife earings that were on a mannequin head and they bought the head too. I was surprised when I first saw her in our bed.  The family moves her around the house to scare each other. You never know where she's going to be."

"Our neighbor has two mannequins on her front porch that she dresses up."

"I love it."

"What is that?"

"Is that a ventriloquist?" (I should have said, yes, and I'm the dummy.")

"I'm afraid of dolls because of "The Twilight Zone" episode, "Talking Tina."

"Lili's hair compliments your hair."

"She's not checking me out."

He informed me, "There are men who have full blown relationships with their mannequin and go on dates with them, look it up." (I'm afraid to)

The guard at the gate said, "Did you decapitate someone?"



COMMENTS ABOUT ME AND MY CAR

She: "This is beautiful.  It's the perfect ride for the end of the night." (7 am)

He: "I won't forget this ride."

She handed my a $5 bill and said, "This is for you getting a grandchild."

"I can't believe how much you enjoy doing this."

"This is the most talked about Uber."

"Keep collecting, you're doing good."

"This is so cool, you're a relic."

"I've never experienced anything like this."

The very nice couple were in my car for only six minutes and got out saying over and over, "This is the best Uber driver ever." The woman, a lawyer, added, "And the tip will reflect that."($10)

She: "I'm sorry I don't have anything for you. Wait, this is a jade bracelet from Guademala, I want you to have it."

"This was very fun."

"This is the most interesting ride I've ever taken."

"This is the coolest Uber I've ever been in."

"This is great-amazing."

"I love this."

"This is very creative."

"You're the best Uber driver."

"That's really good."

She said, "I'm loving it." Me: "I thought I was in a McDonald's commercial."

"This was my favorite Uber ride."

"This was so entertaining."

The woman kept saying one word during the ride, "amazing."

"I learned a lot on this ride."

"This was the best Uber ever."

"This feels like an Indian ride."  (??)

I told her I was waiting for a rider to give me the new Jamaican bill and she said, "I'm going there next week, I'll send you one."

"You're doing a good job."

"Such a cool ride."

"Can you come back later and get us?"

"This was the coolest and most entertaining ride I've ever had."



Sunday, June 2, 2024

MY MOST MEMORABLE RIDERS IN MAY

INSTANT REPORE

As I drove to the Hilton to pick up a passenger, I was expecting a good ride and I was not disappointed. Sometimes, I immediately click with a passenger and in this case we were laughing as I pulled away from the hotel. They were from Minnesota and since it is my second favorite state to pick people up from, I knew immediately it was going to be fun.

I asked them how long they had been together and they said, "Sixteen years." When I asked how long they had been married, they said, "About the same amount of time." I joked, "Did you get married on the first date?" They waited three months before getting married, because, they knew almost immediately.  They were at a fundraiser for a church when they met and I could tell they are matched perfectly.

He is a manager at Amazon and we got to talk about distribution some and I told them a bunch of stories of my riders from Minnesota.  We laughed a lot and they were easily my best ride of the day and one of the most enjoyable rides this month.  


FINDING THE RIGHT GIRL CAN BE PAINFUL!

The couple from the Bronx had been dating for six months.  I asked them how they met and she said, "He chased me for five years."  He kind of denied that and said, "I was at the dentist about to get a needle and she was the head nurse. I told her I didn't feel comfortable and asked her if she would hold my hand.  She did and I had the dentist give me three extra needles so she would hold my hand longer. I would have taken twenty-five needles to have her with me for the rest of my life."  How can you not like a guy like that?


WHAT A COINCIDENCE!

It's not unusual to pick up a couple from New Jersey, but this ride was definitely meant to be.  He used to live in South River, NJ., which is pretty close to Edison where I grew up. He also lived in Madison, NJ., where I went to school at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  She graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison and majored in political science, one of my majors.  She works for a non-profit, as my oldest daughter does. She writes proposals for grants as my son does.  She loves to write as of course I do. He is an engineer by trade, as my son is.

I picked them up in Charleston and I was taking them to rent a car.  They were driving to Myrtle Beach to spend the next few days. Since that's where I live I was able to give them some brochures and tips. It was one coincidence after another and there were probably a few we didn't even get to.


"THE BOSTON SEAGULL"

One of my favorite states to pick people up from is Massachusetts mainly due to the incredible Red Sox and Patriot fans who have shared with me a lot of sports stories.  However, these three young women will be remembered because they were genuinely upset that they didn't have anything to give me for my car.

One woman said, "Can I give you a water bottle," and another said, "Would you like to hear my seagull impression?" I started laughing and asked if I could record it and it was good.  The three screams or screeches sounded like this: "EHHH, ehhh, EHHH!" We were laughing a lot and one of the woman said I should use caps on half of the screams and lower case ones on the others.

They had been on a boat tour of the area and when I got out of the car to say goodbye I noticed that the Boston Seagull's seat was wet. She simply said to me, "It's only water."  The Boston Seagull will always be remembered for the three screeches and the wet seat. 


"THE ARIZONA DOLPHIN CALLER"

The two women were best friends since they were five years old.  One said to me, "She didn't get the message when we were seven that I didn't like her." They had a great time in my car and had just started celebrating the weekend when I asked if they'd like to hear "The Boston Seagull." 

They were laughing after hearing it and one woman said, "I'm actually known as "The Dolphin Caller." On several occasions she has gone into the ocean and called dolphins and has had as many as fifty some dolphins surround her. She told me there is an "Original Dolphin Caller", but she is recognized as a "Dolphin Caller." Her call sounded like this, "EEE, EEE, EEE, EEE, EEE, EEE, EEE."  It was really good.  They gave me a very nice tip and the below picture of them on this vacation to post in my car.  The woman to the left is now known as "The Arizona Dolphin Caller."


                                                       


SHOULD SHE KEEP HER JOB?

The high school senior was on her second day of work at a prestigious hotel, but she was having a lot of doubts about the job.  After a fifteen minute conversation, this is what I found out: 

 1. The job as an assistant server, paid better and was less work than her other job and it looked better on a resume. 

2.She was the youngest person working there which I told her was a good thing.                                

 3. She didn't look like everyone else so she was uncomfortable.                                                              

 4. She was dealing with some wealthy people who were "snobbish" and I told her that it would be a good experience for her.                                                                                                                            

 5. She met a famous author and then the Senator of  South Carolina, Tim Scott, with his mom.  He complimented her on the job she was doing and on her hair.  I told her that he might be the next Vice-President of The United States.                                                                                                                  

6. She had a great experience during orientation meeting two Russian guys who were very nice.  She was surprised because she thought the Russian people didn't like Americans. I told her she learned an important lesson.                                                                                

7. Lastly, everyone in her family thought she should keep the job.

I wrote her a note for her family that said, "I agree with all of you-she should keep the job. The Uber Driver"  I think I had a good influence on her and she'll keep the job.


JUST A LITTLE COSMETICS COMPANY?

She told me she was retired, but for about ten minutes she told me about her career and she enjoyed every minute of it.  From  a southern state, (Louisiana or Alabama?) she told me, "I had a little cosmetics company." She owned a franchise in a small area, but she did $200,000 in sales a year which baffled her company.  I asked her what the secret of her sales success was and she said simply, "Love what you do and the money will come." She quoted a well known saying, "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.  For 23 years she adored her customers and set all kinds of sales records.  Her only regret was that she didn't start earlier.  She still loves what she did.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Take Me Out To The Ballgame!

It took six years in Myrtle Beach for me to get out to the minor league park and see a baseball game.  My friend, Paul, suggested we should go and we had a good time on a beautiful night Wednesday.  The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are an affiliate of the National League Chicago Cubs.

They were playing The Charleston River Dogs, an affiliate of the American League, Tampa Bay Rays.  Actor Bill Murray is a co-owner and his exact title is Director of Fun. The main owner is Mike Veeck, the father of "Night Train" Veeck, my fourth favorite rider that I wrote about in my book.

I thought I was going to get a break from being around a dog at home, but this a picture of the Bat-Dog, "Woof". I don't know the dog's real name.  The dog works for the Pelicans and brings the bats to the girl in the picture who gives the dog a treat.  The dog got a lot of treats last night.


Below is the Pelican mascot, Splash.  He/she did some dancing on the roof of the dugout and tossed out some free t-shirts.  He/she has really big feet.


I had a healthy dinner of two hot dogs and French fries.  They would not take my money of course and just accepted my credit card.


It was a good game which the Pelicans won 3-1.  After the first couple of innings it moved very quickly.  There were close to 3,000 people in attendance.  Below is a picture of what are view was right behind the home dugout.  The netting protected us from the foul balls and there were a lot of them.  I might do this again sometime.