Spiderman Homecoming with Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr. and Michael Keaton

The family went to see Spiderman Homecoming this evening. My son tells me that it is a reboot of Spiderman and that this is the third reboot of the movie. I guess a reboot is where the studios say, okay we are going to try again. Anyways this movie is pretty good. Spiderman is only 15 years old this time, a lot younger than some of the previous ones. This Spiderman is a teenage klutz. He saves people and stops crime but causes a lot of collateral damage. It really is hilarious if you have ever had a teenage boy in your family.

So this Spiderman, well played by Tom Holland also has school status issues. He doesn’t have any status and everybody looks down at him. He so wants to be cool but of course he cannot reveal his identity especially to the girl he likes. He doesn’t get any respect from Ironman, Tony Stark, the leader of the Avengers. But don’t worry. I could tell you the ins and the outs of the plot but just take it from me that everything works out and is nicely wrapped up for a sequel next year. My son tells me that the plan is incorporate Spiderman into the Avengers.

So I give this film a thumbs up. Nice plot, lots of action and suspense, no language problems, everybody keeps there clothes on and the good guys win.

Check the movie’s web site for more trailers, lots of pics, background information, a game and all sorts of good stuff. Check their IMDB site for bios of the full cast, trivia and other interesting info.

Online Life – Closer to Home

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The photos in this post have nothing to do with the subject. I like breaking things up a little bit.

You know I really enjoy the internet. I love facebook, even the political posts. I adore Instagram. I live on Instagram. I have my own account (@yogiab) and I post on two other accounts administered by the Tulsa RiverParks Authority (@riverparks and @turkeymountain). I have a twitter account (@alanbbates) and linked in and so on. Of course I have this blog and I administer the Skywatch Friday photo meme and I just love it all. Maybe too much. I have looked at it as a addition to instead of replacement of a social life. Of course I don’t really have a social life so I may be just fooling myself.

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Things though are changing with the internet. We have a President who loves to tweet without too much thought about what he says. He just types it out and lets it fly. We have the new gizmos like Amazon Electra devices that are always on and can supposedly help you out with all sorts of things. I wonder just where things are going. It seems that blogs are getting phased out by twitter and Instagram. I get a lot more people “liking” my Instagram posts than read my blog posts. (I do love it when people read my blog posts and love it even more when they comment on them.)

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The internet has intruded on my life (or maybe its the other way around) in new ways this week. I have had a bad hay fever bout the last week and a half and over the years I have figured out how to handle them but this time it progressed to a sinus infection. Okay, still no big deal and then suddenly on Wednesday it got into my ears. Time to go see a doctor. Well guess what, my doctor is on vacation this week and I was told to call the next morning, first thing to see if I could be “squeezed” in sometime the next day. Hmmm that didn’t sound good. I hate urgent care places. My employer sponsors a clinic but it was getting late in the day. So I tried our insurance company’s online providers.

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They gave me the choice of two of them so I picked “Amwell” and it took about two hours as somebody somewhere was having technical issues but when I finally hooked up with the company doctor it went fairly well. She was very nice and unhurried and asked a bunch of questions that gave me confidence that she knew what she was doing. So she ended up writing me a prescription that she emailed to my pharmacy. All of that only cost me a $5 copay.

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The next thing is that I needed a small job done. The privacy fence between us our and neighbor is wobbly. I got with my neighbor and I was talking to him about maybe we could reset the fence posts and all that and he looked at me and said “Alan, I am not really into manual labor any more.” Which was great news to me because I am not either. I set my share of fence posts 45 years ago working for free for my Dad on pasture in Arizona and then later, getting paid, as a summer roustabout for Mobil Oil in the Permian Basin. I knew that it was going to be a lot of work digging down to the concrete and then breaking it out and resetting the post if the post were good or putting a new post in if the old one were rotten.

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My neighbor got laid off and found another job out of state and has a contract on his house and is hip deep in projects he needs done before he can close so I told him that I would find somebody to do the job. Do you know how hard that is now? Used to be everybody knew somebody who could do odd jobs at a fair price. I lived in a town north of Houston and I needed my house painted. Somebody told me to call this guy. The guy turned out to be an undocumented (cuz I don’t like calling people illegal) and he said he would do it for $400 plus the cost of the paint. I asked him how long it would take him and he said one day. So I said okay. Turned out he was an Assembly of God preacher and he and a bunch of guys from his church painted the exterior of my house in one day and did a great job.

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So where are these guys? I looked at the online services such as Angie’s list and was a little leary and when I checked further I got really leary. They charge the handyman a stiff price for the “lead” whether I hire the dude or not. So they are not really into estimates. They want hired to do the job and I don’t blame them. I wanted an estimate though since I was representing both me and my neighbor and I don’t mind paying for somebody’s labor. I just want to know what I am getting into. So I found a guy and he came out and made all the right noises and is going to get back with me and so we will see.

This online world is going to go on whether I like it or not and I can tell you that I have been around long enough to know that fighting change is futile. I am not a gung hoe embrace change kind of guy but I am a “choose how you deal with it” kind of guy. It just seems like we are losing the personal touch now days. The glue that binds us together. Things are so contentious and snarky and in your face.

So I’ll go along with these changes but I am going to do my best to make them on my terms and maintain my humanity and concern for others.

Alrighty, I’ll get off my soap box for now.

Baby Driver by Edgar Wright Starring Ansel Elgort and Lily James

The family went to see Baby Driver on July Fourth. Wow, what a movie. Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a getwaway driver for bad guys who hold up banks and such. He gets an equal share of the loot because he is so good at what he does. This movie has some incredible chase scenes made even more amazing because Baby does his thing in nondescript sedans instead of muscle cars. The other thing about Baby is that music is his thing. His whole thing, and only thing. He has tinnitus and he plays music to quell the ringing. He plays music all the time. Music is central to his life.

Music is central to the movie as well. All the action is set to the soundtrack, all of it. The movie opens with a bank heist and buddy times the whole thing to his ipod. The opening chase scene is one of the most mesmerizing chase scenes I’ve ever seen. It is like a ballet it is so smooth and flowing. A day after the getaway the movie shows Baby fetching coffee for his crew. His walk with the four coffees is also choreographed and smooth as he moves along the streets of Atlanta on foot.

He meets a girl (the cutest girl next door in ultra short dresses and high heel hiking boots you have ever seen!) in a diner who sings a song that catches his ear. They meet and fall in love and everything is great. Not!! The next job turns sour, and the rhythm is off, stuff goes wrong with the getaway. The next day is coffee walk is off also. Instead of elegance he bumps into people.

And the movie veers from cute and interesting to predictable. People get hurt, cops get kills (I hate to see cops getting killed in movies. One bad guy in particular turns into the indestructible enemy who just keeps showing up. I loved the first half of the movie and could do without the gratuitous violence and silliness in the second half. Sorry.

I’d go see it again though. Yes the first half is that good.

Leave the kiddos home because of the language and the violence. Everybody keeps their clothes on.

Skywatch Friday – 4th of July and a bit of Art

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It is incredible how they time the fireworks. Here is a double stack.

Of course this being an American blog, you can expect some fireworks as we celebrated the Declaration of Independence on July 4.

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Triple Stack

A couple of my Brit friends posted “Happy Treason Day, You Ungrateful Colonists” on facebook. All in good fun of course. At least I think it was all in good fun.

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Quadruple Stack!!!

Enough of fireworks!!! How about a stainless steel tree!!

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Enough of fireworks and politics okay. How about a stainless steel tree?  It is a sculpture called “Yield” by the artist Roxy Paine installed at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Firecracker 5K on the 4th in Downtown Tulsa

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Well its the Fourth of July and I ran in the annual Firecracker 5K put on by Fleet Feet Tulsa.

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I am not sure how many people ran but it is a pretty big race. Despite the early morning rains there were lots of people there.

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The Hurts Donuts Emergency Truck was there. I didn’t see them handing out free samples and you know I watch the food closely. Just before the race start while we were bunched up it started raining. Not too bad, just enough to make it interesting and thoughts of plugging and abandoning and going home briefly fluttered through my mind but they went away. So off we went winding through the northern part of downtown and into the Brady District and back.

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This was on the back downtown. I am guessing about 1.7 miles into the race.

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And then across the tracks and the long half mile home stretch to the finish line.

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Everybody had a great time. Kudos to Fleet Feet, the Race Director, the army of volunteers who showed up a dark thirty to get everything set up, the Tulsa Police Department who kept control of the course, and the sponsors who provided the food and drink. Everything went together well and it was a great experience.  There is a huge amount of work that goes into making sure that a race goes smoothly and I appreciate it.

The race course was straight with right angle turns and a long climb up to Cains Ballroom. It was challenging and fun. The food and drink were great. The shirt and medal were much appreciated. They had a live band, lots of port potty’s  and room to move around. I’ll be back at this race if I am in town next year.

Later today we are going to grill some chicken at home and then make our way to Veteran’s Park  for some fireworks!! How about you?

Glass by Dale Chihuly at the Crystal Bridges Museum

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This past Sunday the family loaded up and ventured over into Bentonville, Arkansas to see the Dale Chihuly glass art exhibition hosted by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

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Chihuly’s art is amazing. Blown glass with all sorts of colors made into all sorts of shapes. Big pieces, little pieces, everything.

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As good as the art is, the presentation is also special. The setting, the lighting, everything is perfect. Not only the glass but the shadows and the reflections are part of the installation.

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All sorts of designs are his hallmark.

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They had some of his paintings on display along with three videos of him in action. His painting technique fascinated me. This isn’t some guy with a beret dabbing at a canvas. He paints directly from the tubes in big bold strokes. He drips paint from buckets, it is all very physical. They had videos of the glass being blown. Big burly guys struggling with the big pieces trying to get the color and shapes right. This is very muscular art.

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The exhibition has two parts “Chihuly in the Gallery”  and “Chihuly in the Forest.” The piece above seemed to hover in mid air and seemed alive as it shimmered in the sun. It reminded me of something from a Stephen King story. This piece contains over a thousand individual pieces.

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The art seemed a part of the forest, the woods and the glass complimenting each other.

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Once a week or so they have a nightime exhibit. I think that would be spectacular.

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I love this boat.

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And these two pieces.

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And not far away were two fawns. That is cool. I don’t know where mom was. They were in a safe spot.

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Afterwards we drifted in the town square of Bentonville to eat and came across Sam Walton’s first store and museum.

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They had an old time soda fountain with ice cream at 99 cents a scoop. Not a bad finish to a great road trip.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Shadow Shot Sunday – Random Shadows

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Here is son Logan on our way to ONEOK Field to watch baseball. Notice the book in his hand. Smart kid doesn’t care a flip about baseball but he is a good sport especially since we eat barbecue beforehand he gets ice cream during.

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At work they built a new picnic area out in front of the building with a ramada over it. The shadows are supposed to be in the shape of a natural gas flame.  Yeah, well maybe is what I say but my employer keeps the tables cleaned off and it is a nice place in good weather to eat lunch. No smoking, which makes it even better.

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More shadows here on a fence along a local trail.

Linking with Shadow Shot Sunday 2

Topaz Studio

Downtown Tulsa from ONEOK Field-Edit -Studio HDR

Downtown Tulsa seen from ONEOK Field, home of the Tulsa Drillers, a AA minor league time affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Son and I went to a game last week and really enjoyed it. We were behind home plate and so the protective net provides a built in texture to the photo.

Topaz Studio is a new editing program by Topaz Studios. It has a lot of capability including accessing the filters purchased from Topaz instead of going through Photoshop or Corel Draw. I love PhotoShop but I use only about 1% of its capability. The photo above is my first attempt. I used the HDR filter with it. So I will be testing the software more very soon.

Skywatch Friday – New Weather Station KOKTULSA141

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I got a new weather station to replace my old one which finally succumbed to our Oklahoma weather after years of service. The old one was like a mini space station with solar cells for recharging batteries and all sorts of other things. My new one is pretty much self contained and uses rechargeable lithium batteries. The old one just transmitted to a panel in the house. The new one has no panel. It transmits directly to a hub that ties directly into our wifi router and is thus full time on the web. I have it on the Weather Underground here. Below is a screenshot of the output. And I have a widget off to the right.

Gadgets are great but gadgets that are interconnected are just nirvana in my book. My running watch that synchs my phone and Al Gore’s interwebs while I run is another version of nirvana. What did we do before internet synched GPS watches? Of course when things don’t link and synch and I am up to my elbows in MAC and IOP addresses it gets a little frustrating. Nothing that a few beers and some judicious cussing and and google searching and good old fashioned guessing at the settings couldn’t fix.

How about you? Are you all linked and synched or off the grid. You are not too far off the grid if you are reading this.

Skywatch Friday

Bixby “Corn to Run” 5K and a Rant about Race Shirts

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Saturday morning I ventured to the Tulsa suburb of Bixby to run in their “Corn to Run” 5K.

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Bixby is home to some of the highest price residential real estate in Oklahoma but it still has a small town feel especially the old downtown area.

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There are still thriving businesses downtown of all kinds. Restaurants, dance studios, and such.

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I have no idea why the town thinks they need this thing.

The 5K is part of Bixby’s “Green Corn Festival.” The town is known for its truck farms that produce all sorts of produce including corn. More and more of the farms have sold out to real estate developers and so the acreage devoted to farming continues to decline.

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The festival has a carnival with rides, carnival food, and lots of food trucks besides.

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I love this gigantic wall clock on the municipal building

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The typical milling about before a race. And then we were off.

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I only stopped to take this one photo. I love this house. We wound around to the east side of town and then down south and then back up. There was not much traffic control, it was not really needed, not many people were out and about and those that were had the good sense and courtesy to not bother the runners. The course was well marked, especially for me since almost all the runners were ahead of me for some reason.

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And the finish line!! The guy on the PA made if fun for everybody and held off the awards ceremony until the everybody made it in.

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Including the police department, who finished last.

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I ended up getting second in the 60 to 70 year old category.  There were three of us in case you were wondering. The little dog tag is something that they gave everybody who finished.

Satisfaction

The race was well organized. Lots of helpful volunteers, the water at the end was cold, they had snacks, ample portapotty’s, the course was well marked and free of problems. The race started on time and they started the awards promptly and moved through them quickly. The race director and the people helping him did a great job. This should have been a totally satisfying race but it wasn’t quite for me and I’m going to tell you why.

They only had shirts for people who had registered by June 16. None for anybody else. The only thing said on the registration process was that shirts were not guaranteed for those who registered after that date. Okay fair enough, I should have known, right? Well maybe. I have run in over 150 races since I started running them twenty three years ago. Most of them I enter just a few days before the event and many the morning of the event. This is the first race where I didn’t get a shirt. Sometimes I had to take a different size shirt. Several times the race director had extra shirts made up and I got them a month after the event. Here they made no attempt to do any of that. They should have said “Guaranteed no shirt” after the 16th. Many races have an option for no shirt at a discounted entry.

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Logan and a run shirt.

I know why they do this and I get it. I have helped with several races and what drives race directors crazy is trying to figure out how many people are going to show up. So if you want to make sure that everybody gets a shirt then you have to kind of guess and hope that you didn’t order too many. The shirts are not free and the value of a shirt an hour after an event is basically zero.

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Logan with his cousin Shiloh and Uncle Irvin at a race in Idaho.

These races can bring in a lot of money but they cost a lot of money also. For everything from chip timing, to renting the tents and tables that you need, course security, course certification. The directors have to recruit volunteers to help them out and make sure they know what to do. So I get it, I really do. And so your costs are fixed and then you get guys like me who register at the last minute, full of expectations.

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Logan and my wife Heather at an event in Tulsa a few years ago.

And so why do I register so late? Why don’t I get on board and register a week and a half in advance? I’ll tell you why! Life, that is why. Just with what is going on I am not sure that I am going to be able to race until a few days before and I don’t want to spend the $30 and not be able to go. Sorry, but our family schedule is like the fog until something breaks free and it is like, okay, I am going to be able to race so then I hit the interwebs looking for something to go to.  I don’t think that I am that much different than other people. Especially those with a family.

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I still have that shirt!

And not only that, I love race shirts. I have a bunch of them and they are one of the reasons I run the races. Many races have a cheaper no shirt option and I have never signed up for that. So, yep it may be childish of me, but there it is.

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I still have that shirt also!

Why am I make such a big deal about this?

Doing my research I am seeing a many races using the “Shirts Not Guranteed” language for registrations after a certain date. So it is more than just this one race.

And so why should Race Directors listen to me?

Satisfaction is why. If you have ever been in a sales or marketing role you will realize that making the sale is not the end of the process. If your customer is not happy with the deal he struck then you did not make a good deal. You see that in a lot of businesses (successful businesses that is) where the after sale is treated very seriously by the customer. You have to make the customer feel good about what he or she has agreed to do. And I think that translates directly to races. I will tell you that the only way I am going to run the “Corn to Run” event next year is I am guaranteed a shirt.

Ideas on what to do?

What do I think race directors do?

  • Charge more after a certain date. Lots of big races do that. The Route 66 Marathon, Tulsa Run,  and others charge more the longer you wait to sign up. I generally wait pretty late on those races also and I understand that it is costing me money and I understand that.
  • Have more shirts made after the race. I know that is expensive also, so charge latecomers like me.
  • Discount the race for people who will not be getting shirts. Why should we pay the same as people who are getting a shirt.
  • Go back to ordering more shirts and hope for the best. Yep, I know this costs more.
  • Or just ignore old farts like me.

So anyway, I hope I didn’t spoil anybody’s time nor am I denigrating the Race Director or others involved in the well run and fun “Corn to Run 5K.” I am offering my comments and I hope that are seen as constructive. I also recognize that things change and as financial pressures on races continue we may see more changes. I recognize that I may be trying to swim upstream on this issue.

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