Nebraska or Bust – Field Report By Rob Sinatra – Day 3

DAY 3:

After awaking from a most peaceful slumber, well me anyway (Ed always seems to have trouble sleeping), Ed and I got an early start for our last leg. This was the most important leg of the journey because it was the only one with a deadline. Mr. Ed had to be on a plane bound for Minneapolis/St. Paul at 4:30 PM and then make a connection back to the land of cheese steaks and soft pretzels, Yo Philly, PA. Now as much as Mr. Ed and I are really good friends, there was no way in Hades that I was going to let him get stuck in Omaha, NE. We returned back onto Rt. 80 and traveled at Warp Factor 3 for most of the trip. My intestinal track was now back under control so we were able to haul butt rather than yesterdays episode filled of P&G (i.e Peeing and Gas- I did all the urinating. All flatulence belonged to Ed. It was like something crawled up the poor boys buttocks and died. I thought the dashboard was going to melt.). Driving was tough because Ed was zoning out and napping most of the time, and the road was covered with fog. It was like driving in the infamous Fog Bowl between the Eagles and the Cowboys. Rt. 80 in Iowa is almost entirely straight and flat. There were only pockets of civilization and wide sprawling farmland. The one time we had to stop for gas, Ed and I had to drive seven miles out of our way. We saw tons of cattle, pigs and horses. This is also apparently Danish country (the people NOT the pastry). As we pull up to a Texaco we noticed a police car blocking the road. Apparently the town was having a Memorial Day parade and the whole town was shut down until after the parade was over. It was really cool to see that kind of pride and spirit, but it REALLY stunk for those of us who had to go the bathroom (i.e. me) and instead of using a urinal had to climb down a steep embankment in order to relieve themselves in the bushes, as well as getting mud all over my brand new (well… not anymore) sneakers. The rest of the trip into Omaha was uneventful. I checked into my room and Ed helped me unload my stuff. When we finally finished emptying it out, I was really surprised about how much junk I had lugged with me the past 1300 miles. I also cringed in horror as I realized that in 10 weeks I would have to lug it all the way back. With the help of computer aided directions I was able to get Mr. Ed to the airport without major incident and we waited in the terminal for Ed’s flight to arrive.

The airport in Omaha, NE is really small compared to the other major airports I’ve been (i.e. Philadelphia, JFK, Newark, Miami, etc.). The small size was refreshing because you couldn’t get lost, and great thing about it was that the maximum I would have to pay for parking would $6 (I ended up paying $5, but whose complaining!). While waiting for the plane to arrive, Ed and I had a nice conversation with some people from Minneapolis. We talked about how much we hated squirrels and how unfair a 1300 mile journey by car could be, especially for Ed who had only been in Omaha for about two hours and already had to leave. Their accents were neat. It was like listening to Fargo. Ed and I tried our hardest to use up the remaining film left in the disposable cameras, but Ed still had a ton left over when he went on the plane. Ed’s leaving was really anti-climatic. It was a great trip and I was really sad to realize it was over. Driving cross country is not something one should do alone. First of all, its not safe. A person could go crazy doing all that by himself. Second, there are so many really neat things that are in the U.S. of A., and its important to share it with somebody, especially if they laugh at all your jokes. I’ll be driving back with my friend Jim, whose golf clubs and books I brought out, who will be flying into Omaha late Sunday night. On the way back, we’re planning on stopping off at a few places that Ed and I couldn’t on the way out. I really think its going to be more interesting, but I doubt that it will be as much fun. Thanks, Mr. Ed. I owe you one.

Nebraska or Bust – Field Report By Rob Sinatra – Day 2

DAY 2:

Ed and I were able to get up when our wake up call came at 6:00 AM. All the water that I had drank during the night had done its trick. Unfortunately, I still had persistent problems if you catch my meaning. The room then showed its ugly side. The shower was in bad shape. First of all the hot and cold water knobs were reversed. Also anytime you used hot water outside the bathroom, the shower lost all its hot water. Now that we were fully awake we realized that there were no mattress pads or covers, only sheets. We decided to skip the continental breakfast because my stomach was still not in tip top shape. We stopped off at the local pharmacy and bought Immodium AD so that I wouldn’t have to stop on the road every thirty-six seconds. Unfortunately since I had to re-hydrate myself I had to relieve myself every thirty-nine seconds. Another difficulty was that the route we took to get to the “hotel” would not let us get back on 480 West so we had to find an alternate route. A nice and little detour that would pale in comparison to the one that would follow. We got a great jump on the day and left at 8:30 AM with TWO disposable cameras in tow so we could chronicle this momentous trek across the US. Ed and I were able to convince a very nice gas attendant at the local Sunoco to give us our 2nd camera for $8 worth of gas instead of the 8 GALLONS of gas that we actually needed to fulfill the deal. Needless to say that we have a lot of pictures left at the present moment.

Another problem that arose was the time change. Somewhere in Indiana, Ed and I went from Eastern Daylight Savings Time to Central Daylight Savings Time. However, there were no signs telling you to roll back your watch an hour, and the radio station that we were listening to never said what time it was. Not that this was a major difficulty or anything, but it was really discomforting. It was like Ed and I were stuck in some cheesy Dr. Who episode (don’t get me wrong, I love the Doctor, but it was the only comparison I could make). You never realize how important time is until your stuck grasping for it. Try not wearing your watch for a day and you’ll know what I mean.

Now for our getting lost. The trip when we started was pretty straight forward. You just take 80 West and keep on going. However, while playing a fierce installment of the Alphabet game outside of Chicago, IL, we suddenly found ourselves on the road to Wisconsin. Now while Ed and I are particularly fond of cheese, this was not the purpose of our journey. Thanks to the deftness of reading a map while extremely exhausted, brave First Class Navigator Ed plotted us the proper course back through hyper space and once again on 80 West. Then we ran smack dab into a long rain storm that lasted the through the last 200 miles or so. When we finally made it to Iowa, it could easily be said that Ed and I were pleased as punch. Then we got to the hotel. A REAL one this time. The Comfort Inn in LeClaire, IO was absolutely heaven, even in the rain. It sits directly across the Mississippi River. The room was gigantic and the beds were REALLY comfortable. We had a great recliner that easily could have doubled as a third bed. We both wanted to watch the Flyers/Devils Game 7 and so we went to the Supermarket next door and bought a freshly made pizza, soda, and snacks. The meal was great. The game was not. I even got a chance to talk to a friend in Ohio that I haven’t talked to in a couple of months. It looks to be a good nights sleep and another good jump on our last leg to Omaha.

Nebraska or Bust – Field Report By Rob Sinatra – Day 1

Here’s the whole trip in a nutshell (well… five pages of a nutshell anyway).

Mr. Rob and Mr. Ed Hit the Road: Nebraska or Bust May 2000

DAY 1:

The day started out pretty uneventful. We planned to leave at 7:00 AM so that we could miss all the traffic coming out of Philadelphia and make it pass Pittsburgh before rush hour. After departing Rob’s house at 11:45 AM (different story for a different day), Ed and I made pretty good time, mostly by breaking major laws of both physics and mechanical engineering (Average speed: 80 MPH). The weather was really nice and we had ample opportunity to enjoy it as we were stuck in two long episodes of stop and stop traffic (there ain’t no go). It took us nine hours total to get to the Econo Lodge in North Olmsted, Ohio. A nice place to stay( i.e. two beds, A/C, and a bathroom- everything a body needs). Due to the diligent Internet research of my brother Frank, we had detailed maps of where we were going and some really neat places to stop and enjoy all the local color that North Olmsted had to offer. After calling both our parents and telling them that we were alive and not in jail, we decided to eat at the local Lone Star a few minutes away. The e-mail search said that Lone Star was open until 11:00 PM, and since we got there at 10, we thought that we would have plenty of time to eat and unwind. Unfortunately fate had other plans. The hostess at the Lone Star after asking us whether we wanted to sit in smoking or non-smoking proceeded to tell us that the place had just closed. Ed and I had just traveled 485 miles. We were tired and more importantly hungry. WE WOULD NOT BE DENIED!!!!!! Right next to the Lone Star that had denied us life giving sustenance was a place of that was absolutely to quote J.J. “DY-NO-MITE!!!!” The name of the place was the Macaroni Grill. The cuisine was home-made Italian with lightning quick service. Needless to say the food was very good. The really neat thing about the Macaroni Grill was their jugs of wine. No, not bottles, but enormous, honking huge, behemothian jugs of wine (approximately 15 11 oz. glasses per jug and they gave us 11 oz. glasses to drink the wine with too). The wine works on the honor system. They charge you for one glass each and you pour as much as you want telling your waiter or waitress how many glasses of wine you’ve actually had. Pretty cool. Since Ed doesn’t really know a lot about wine, I chose a very nice Chianti, or at least what I THOUGHT was a really good Chianti (more on that later). Ed had the Chicken Marsala and I had a really tasty shrimp dish. The New England Clam Chowder was absolutely out of this world. The desert was interesting- an eggless custard. It was like eating something the consistency of Smoo, but not too bad.

Back to the wine. Ed at this point was really beat and had finished eating. He had one glass of wine and couldn’t finish the second. I offered to not waste his glass of wine in combination with the two large glasses that I had already. I know what you’re thinking. Rob drove back to the Econo Lodge totally vasnikered. UNTRUE. I went to bed feeling fine. It was only at 3:00 AM that my gastrointestinal system decided to wake me up in full rebellion. For those who know me, they know of my bathroom prowess (i.e. the mighty DM: Dumpus Maximus). However, things got so bad that a new category had to be created- DMEU: Dumpus Maximus Extremis Uncontrolabus. Thank God that I had the bed next to the bathroom. Rob’s Helpful Traveling Hint #1: Never ever have 2 and ½ 11 oz. glasses of wine and take two antacids and forget to drink a tun of water. Let the bathroom beware!!!! But that wasn’t the only bedtime adventure we had that night.

Apparently someone used the Econo Lodge for their other use (i.e wink, wink, nudge, nudge). To mask this they decided to crank out the toons that the young people will enjoy. I decided to call the front desk and they handled the matter with all due haste (only because Ed and I couldn’t find the room so we could blast the door down the Anti-tank weapon Ed packed along for those SPECIAL occasions. That’s what I love about Ed, he’s so resourceful.). I went to sleep after that with only the aforementioned problem stated above. However for Ed, the fun just kept on going. Ed had to deal with my snoring (i.e only second to my brother, Frank, who now has a machine to help him breath at night because he snores so bad) and the ‘happy couple’ who decided to watch TV at O Dark 30. Fortunately the A/C kicked in and Ed was able to kick the bed until I stopped snoring. Hopefully that is the worst that will happen to us on our trip

 

The Bathroom, The Fog Machine, and Me.

Ok, ready for this?

My friend Greg owns a professional grade fog machine.

The Tech Centre of TBS is in a remoulded two story house, with a full bathroom upstairs and a half bathroom or “powder room” down stairs. Just the loo and a sink.

One Evil Thought later, and I have snuck the fog machine into the office and stowed it away in the downstairs bathroom, under the sink.

Wait a week, just in case.

So, I make the announcement that if anyone needs me I’ll be in the john. I enter the bathroom, setup the fog machine, turn it on and let it rip! I had that thing running until it automatically shut off. I could not see my hand held out at arms length. I unplug the machine, wrap up the cables, and stepped out of the bathroom. Our office manager, Nancy, desk faces the bathroom, so I walk out, turn to her and say, “Do NOT, go in there!” and shut the door. She looks up at me an inquires “What was that?” I respond, “Ooohhh, Nothing.” “Open that door.” she commanded. I comply open the door, letting more of the fog waft out of the bathroom and close it again. Her eyes were the size of dish plates.

Now Rick turns a sees some smoke wafting across the top of her desk and his first thought was, oh it’s just Nancy’s cigarette smoke. At which point he realizes that there is to much smoke to be that. He stands up and comes over to Nancy’s desk, where she’s still starring at me in disbelief, and exclaims, “What the?!?!?!?!” I open the door and let some more smoke out. Rick busts out in hysterics.

Mind you all this time my boss, Jim has had his back turned to the whole situation. Added on to that he was busy on the phone and had not yet turned more that one quarter way around. Finally after ten minutes Jim turns around. I open the door. In the middle of a sentence about accounting software, he cuts to “Holy SHIT! The bathroom’s on fire! I’ll call you right back!” hangs up the phone and comes running over and stares in to the bathroom in disbelief.

Now here’s what the bathroom looked like. Looking into it was like looking into a portal to another dimension. It was a solid wall of fog that was slowly dissipating out into the hallway. I swear that if you your hand into it you couldn’t see it. Jim stepped into it and disappeared. This is only a 5′ by 5′ room that we are talking about. One sniff and Jim knew it wasn’t smoke, the fog juice had a strawberry sent to it.

I got into a little bit of trouble for pulling that prank.

I’m surprised that I did not loose my job.

Paintball Safety – or – How not to Check to See if You’re Out of Ammo. #3

So now that we have REALLY learned our lesson this time by having me make and example of my self, we all are now ever so careful not to do anything stupid. Really. Honestly. If you believe that I got a bridge to sell you. Now we are gone along, three months now without anything bad happening. In other words, we should have seen this coming. Rob has developed some problem with his gun. We have now switched over exclusively to the PGP Pistols because of the lower cost to keep armed and filled with co2. Now for some reason the co2 cartridge is not properly sitting in the gun and Rob was having trouble screwing in the bolt that held the co2. We call a time out on the playing field so we can help Rob fix his gun. The problem was there was some gunk on the tip of the cartridge not allowing it to seat in correctly. Now with the PGP Pistol, the paintballs are held in a chamber above the barrel. There is a small gap where you can see if there is any paintballs in the gun. However, there is practically no way to see if anything is in the chamber. I think you see where this is going. To start a new co2 cartridge you have to pump the gun once to break the seal and then once again to fill the chamber. Greg gets the gun all together and does the double pump to start the gun. Rob asks if it’s now working. Greg responds “Sure! See” turns toward Rob points it at his chest, not more than a foot away, and pulls the trigger. There was a ball chambered. Rob went down on one knee and clutched his chest all the while informing Greg that his parents were never married, and making other accusations.

ALWAYS ASSUME THAT THERE’S ONE IN THE CHAMBER!

Paintball Safety – or – How not to check to see if you’re out of ammo. #2

Well, now that we have learned our lessons with the semi-auto guns, they eat up a lot of ammo, We have gone out and purchased several Sheridan PGP Paintball Pistols. Which holds 10 shots and 1 “in the chamber”. We are back inside the house getting something to drink. Now safety has become our major concern, especially after I SHOT MY FREAKING HAND OFF! Sorry, anyway, we are constantly checking to make sure that the safety is on, we dump out all our ammo before going inside. We had to repaint the living room after one of the semi’s were shot in the house because “Don’t worry, there’s no ammo in the gun. See?” and proceeded to fire the gun splattering the wall with paint. Back to the story. They ask me as a note of precaution, “Ed, is the safety on, on your pistol?” “Why yes!” I respond drawing my pistol, pointing it at my left hand. “See,” I say as I pull the trigger. And SHOT MY FREAKING HAND OFF, AGAIN!

I screamed like a cheerleader.

Rule of thumb kids. ALWAYS CHECK THE SAFETY FIRST!

NEVER ASSUME!

Paintball Safety – or – How not to Check to See if You’re Out of Ammo. #1

So, Charles, Greg, and I are playing a renegade game of paintball in Rambo’s backyard. At midnight. During the winter. No I never said I was sane. Anyway, we are playing and the co2 tanks are starting to freeze increasing, the air pressure the semi-auto guns are firing at. Quick bit of paintball info. Paintball guns fire at somewhere between 220 fps and 300 fps. Feet Per Second. 300 fps is about 200 mph. back to the story. So I’m running through the woods firing my gun and I can hear it firing blanks. The balls are not dropping down into the chamber properly due to the temperature. I shake the gun a couple of times to get the balls resorted, and fire the gun. I’m still shooting only air. It’s dark and my only source of light is the crescent moon above. So now I’m thinking to myself, maybe I’m not hearing things correctly. Maybe the gun is really firing and I’m just not seeing it. So I put my hand in front of the barrel and pull the trigger several times. Air. Now I’m pissed off. I shake the gun and fire several more times. Air again. Now I’m fuming mad. I give the gun a real violent shake and fire the gun. First pull of the trigger, air. Second pull of the trigger, air. Third pull of the trigger a frozen paintball flies out at 300 fps (200 mph) and hits my left hand right below my index and middle finger. Luckily I was wearing a glove. Unfortunately, it was not very thick. I was about to scream then I realized I did not want to give away my position. So I stood there for a good deal of time staring at my hand, mouth wide open, and eyes wide open.

It hurt.

It hurt a lot.

Don’t do this at home kids.

Paintball Safety – or – Why You Sould not Play Paintball With a Sling Shot.

Ok, Mathew-San, Jim Maguire, and I use to be amateur anarchists. We one night suck out of our houses and decided to play paintball hide and seek through our neighborhood. Jim had the only gun, Matt used the sling shot and I was “Ammo-Boy” for Matt. We’ve were running around shooting up houses and generally having fun. Jim runs off into the woods and hides. Matt and I are sneaking around looking for him. “Wait,” Matt whispers. “He’s hiding over there. Behind those trees.” That boy has got to have the best vision in the world. I didn’t see squat. I hand a paintball after two to three minutes of arguing of where Jim was. “I’m going to hit him in the center of his forehead,” Matt says as he is drawing back the slingshot. He releases! Whizz! Splat! “AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!” We ran over to Jim to see what happened. He’s clutching his hand over his left eye, cursing like a sailor. Matt and I are trying our best not to laugh at the way he is stringing the curses together. We calm Jim down and try to get the details. Here’s what happened to Jim. He heard the snap of the slingshot and saw the paintball hanging in the air, growing. If any of you have ever played paintball, this means that you are going to get hit in the head. Realizing this, Jim stood up and moved to the right to get out of the way. He didn’t move fast enough got hit right in the left lens of his glasses. Popped the lens right out and cut him on the cheek.

Needless to say we didn’t ever do that again.

The SPUDZOOKA! ™®©etc.

Are you feeling crazy today? Click here for an excellent instructional on how to make a spudzooka from the Backyard Ballistics Web Page

So, Greg and I are baby-sitting Rambo’s house (yes that’s his real name) and we are board. Greg has been surfing the web and found the plans for a spudzooka. Of course Greg has “redefined” the plans and “improved” on the original specs.

So we make the treck to Home Depot looking for all the PVC parts that we need to build this “device.” Let me tell you something, when you’re in Home Depot talking about building a spudzooka, people tend to leave you alone. We picked up all the parts that we need (plans will be posted as soon a I get them from Greg) and headed back to the house. We managed to build it without serious loss of life or limb. We built a makeshift bipod out of the remaining parts and propped up on that.

Now that we have it built, there was a little problem of firing it. We drilled a hole in the base and stuck in a model rocket engine igniter in. We poured about a half cup of petrol into the bottom of the spudzooka. One quick note. This information was given to me from a nautical handbook. 1 cup of gasoline equals 6 sticks of dynamite. Back to the story. We run a line of 10baseT cabling that I “borrowed” from the office out about 20′ to 30′ away, and wired it to a camcorder battery. Now we were use to the rocket engines taking up to 30 seconds to ignite so it was a bit of a shock the spudzooka fired immediately when Greg touched the wires to the contacts. It sounded somewhat like Foomf. Now having said that, it’s kind of important to mention the fact that both Greg and I are both looking at the battery, prepared the be waiting 20 seconds before it goes off. We hear it foomf, look over and see the spudzooka falling backwards off of the bi-pod. It blew it self off of the bi-pod completely. And we missed it.

Ok, now we are dammed determined to get this cussing thing to fire off. We scrounged around to see if we have any more igniters to no avail. So we decide to try and use a fuse from a m90 to see if it will fire off. The fuse goes out before reaching the petrol. I get volunteered to try dropping a match in the hole to ignite the gasoline. No problem. I’ve dealt with explosives before, piece of cake. Walked over to the Spudzooka and dropped the match in. The gasoline caught fire, along with the duct tape and the entire bottom part of the spudzooka. We stood and stared at it for somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute. At that point one of us said “Well. We better put that out before something bad happens.” And proceeded to watch it for another 30 seconds and a minute. I then ran inside and garbed the fire extinguisher and put the fire out.

After we deemed the spudzooka operable, we decided to try it again, this time for sure we had fixed the problem.

We managed to catch it on fire, again.

We stood and stared at it for somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute. At that point one of us said “Well, the fire extinguisher’s dead. Now what?” And proceeded to watch it for another 30 seconds and a minute. I run inside, grab a shovel, dig up some dirt and pour it on top of the flames, smothering it.

We decided to call it a night and try again tomorrow.

To be continued.