The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays (041116)—Road trip!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’ve been thinking about my next road trip after finding out about a company called Turo. Turo is a car rental marketplace where travelers can rent any car they want, wherever they want it, from a nationwide community of local car owners, making Turo a great option for car rentals for a road trip. They have a much wider price range than standard rentals, so they are a great resource for adventurers who want to hit the open road.

Anyhow, I started creating a road trip song list and thought I would share the beginnings with y’all!

I listen to my non-classical music collection (currently 1,649 hours, 55 minutes, and 10 seconds of music) while in the car; the only two genres not represented in my non-classical collection are rap and hip-hop. I don’t care for the vulgarity that is too often present in songs in those genres.

My specific road trip play list would have two types of songs on it: songs I can sing to and songs I can tap my foot to (left foot; the right foot is working the gas and brake pedals). So maybe my ideal road trip play list would have songs that I can both sing to AND tap my foot to. Here are a few of them, in no specific order other than the order in which they popped up in my head:

“Generation Clash” by Accept, 1989

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lots of songs by Queen would make this list, including, of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (think “Wayne’s World”). Queen’s 1975 album, “A Night At The Opera” probably is on my list of Top 10 albums of all time. The album itself would make a great road trip listen. This, possibly, is my favorite song from the album:

“39” by Queen, 1975

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Back in 1973 as a freshman at Texas A&M University, a friend and I would road trip to football games in his Firebird. Both of us were huge fans of The Doobie Brothers. Here’s one of their songs that we were always playing on our road trips, and which would still be on my road trip playlist 40+ years later:

“Rockin’ Down The Highway” by The Doobie Brothers, 1972

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

After graduating from Texas A&M University, I hung out with a different crowd since everyone from college took jobs in different cities. That was when I discovered Fleetwood Mac, and this next song became a road trip staple:

“Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac, 1977

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Lots of songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival and, after their breakup, John Fogerty would also make the list. CCR and Fogerty just have that natural driving rhythm in almost all of their songs. Here, let’s go with a song that has a car title:

“Hot Rod Heart” by John Fogerty, 1997
(Let’s go riding, cruising down the open road,
We can put the top down, listen to the radio….)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A song from my Lost Music Decade, which means I only recently discovered it:

“Hunting Humans (Insatiable)” by Rainbow, 1995

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Since I’m a huge Paul McCartney fan, I love a song with good bass in it. McCartney, Peter Cetera of Chicago, Tiran Porter of The Doobie Brothers, and Wayne Nelson of Little River Band are my four favorite bassists. Here’s one of my favorite driving songs from Little River Band:

“No More Tears” by Little River Band, 1983

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I always knew the following song as “Things Go Better With Rock.” I never could find the song anywhere until a couple of years ago when I accidentally discovered the real name of the song and the name of the group.

“Turn Up The Radio” by Autograph, 1984

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Neil Young plays the celeste in this next song. One of my favorite songs by CSN&Y.

“Queen Of Them All” by Crosby Stills Nash & Young, 1999

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I did many a road trip in college with Bachman-Turner Overdrive playing on the car’s tape deck. BTO is similar to CCR in that almost every song makes a good road trip song. Here’s one of my favorites:

“Roll On Down The Highway” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, 1974
(The time’s real short, you know the distance is long.
I’d like to have a jet but it’s not in the song….)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

By now everyone probably is asking, “Where are The Beatles? Where are The Beatles?” Fear not, dear readers. I’ve simply been trying to decide what one song from The Beatles should be in this post. I can’t decide….

Still haven’t decided….

Nope.

Haven’t decided yet….

Still stumped….

Okay.

I think I have it.

How about this one since it was one of my favorite riding songs from high school, a time when I didn’t have a car so I didn’t drive. But friends had to put up with me singing this song over and over and over again on the way to Whataburger, or Sonic, or the dance hall. Maybe I wanted to be a paperback writer….

“Paperback Writer” by The Beatles, 1966

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Drive Tales

I livew in my own little world

One of my many jobs right now is delivering packages for Amazon Prime Now. It’s a little different from Amazon Prime where packages are delivered at Amazon’s choosing by USPS, UPS, and FedEx. With Prime Now, YOU choose when you want your goods delivered. You can choose any two-hour window between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., seven days a week at no extra charge. If you need something in the next hour, you can pay $7.99 and get it within an hour of paying for it.

Amazon Prime Now also has partnerships with several local businesses, such as Sprouts Farmers Market, Bristol Farms (organic and whole foods), and Sprinkles cupcake factory (seems ironic to throw Sprinkles in there with Sprouts and Bristol Farms….).

I’ve been doing this since November 18, 2015, and it provides a lot of what I call “Drive Tales.” Following are a few.

  1. Whenever I deliver packages, I ask for a name to go with the order. Since no one has to sign for the order, this verifies that the correct person is receiving the order.
    I delivered two packages full of groceries from Sprouts to a cute Craftsman home. A lady answered the door and I said “Sprouts delivery from Amazon” as she took the two bags.
    I asked her, “Can you provide a name to go with this order?”
    With a puzzled look on her face she said, “No, I can’t. I don’t know what this is.”
    From behind her, a guy on the couch play computer games yelled, “It’s under John Doe!”
    The lady turns around, looks at him, turns back around and says to me, quietly, “In 11 years of marriage this is the first time he’s gone grocery shopping.”
    I’m thinking that Amazon Prime Now might have saved a marriage….
  2. I was training a new employee and we were following the GPS when we had to come to a stop at a fence. The GPS wanted us to go through the fence, over the cliff, into the canyon, and up the other side to that house that we could see. Unfortunately, in order to actually get to the house, we had to drive 1½ miles around the canyon.
    GPS navigation technology is great but the best technology still resides in the upper part of our heads. Sadly, the GPS doesn’t recognize fences, walls, bollards, spike strips, canyons, or cliffs, so it’s not unusual for the Amazon app to tell us to stop at the side of a freeway to deliver the order. I wouldn’t have a problem with that if I didn’t have to climb that 150′ cliff….
  3. I wasn’t a real convert to whether or not delivering packages in 2-hour windows was a business model that could succeed. Then, one day, again while training a new employee, we delivered 18 bags of groceries to a house with a front door with several glass panes and a curtain. My first thought was, “Lazy. Go to the store!)
    We rang the doorbell and could see the curtain moving and hear someone “playing” with the doorknob. I thought it was a child.
    After several minutes the door finally opened. Standing there was a woman with twin newborn sons in her arms.
    Now I understood. It’s not the product; it’s the person’s situation. I’ve delivered to many elderly who don’t drive anymore, people just home from the hospital, people on crutches or in wheelchairs, etc.
  4. How come the extraordinarily wealthy don’t have visible address numbers on their homes? Perhaps they don’t want to be found….
  5. In one huge, prestigious condominium complex I couldn’t find address numbers anywhere. I got out my 500 lumens flashlight and was shining the light all over the buildings trying to find addresses. Suddenly, three police cars pulled up and surrounded me. They wanted to know what I was doing. I said that I was delivering packages for Amazon and was simply trying to find address numbers. One of the officers said, “Oh. You’re not the first. They are up there” as he pointed to the top of the 4-story building. Yep, way up there where they are not visible to anyone….
  6. At another condominium complex the address numbers were there but….
    The buildings were painted a dark gray. The address numbers were painted a shade of gray that was 1% lighter than the building. Yeah, those are really readable at night…..
  7. One condominium complex of eleven 6-story buildings doesn’t have address numbers. When I’m having difficulty finding an address, I can call the customer. I did that and told the customer, “Russel from Amazon here with your Sprouts order but I need help finding your condo.”
    “Where are you?” she asked.
    “I don’t know because there are no address numbers on the buildings.”
    “Oh, yeah. Drive to the nearest street and then drive down to the nearest intersection and tell me where you are.”
    “I’m here at McCartney Drive and Lennon Avenue.”
    Oh. You went the wrong way. Make a U turn and drive to the other intersection. I’m in the building on the corner of Harrison Parkway and Starkey Boulevard.”
    Why didn’t she just tell me that to begin with?
  8. One guy lived on the fifth floor of a 5-story building. I couldn’t find any elevators; quite unusual for a 5-story building.
    I lugged two heavy bags up 10 flights of stairs, 2 flights per story. My knock on the door was answered by a 6′-5″ guy weighing about 300 pounds (think defensive lineman for a professional football team), standing there in his tightey whitey underwear briefs. After handing him the two packages I asked where the elevators were. They were in the building but they only connected to the garages.
    “Could you let me into the garage to get these other six packages to you?”
    “I’d have to get dressed. What’s the purpose of delivery if I have to get dressed?”
    No, he didn’t let me into the garages, so I made three more trips up and down ten flights of stairs. With all that exercise, though, I didn’t feel guilty about eating a pizza that night….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Perhaps she just needed someone to listen to her….

I livew in my own little world

I have been driving for Uber every day for a couple of weeks, a few hours each day.

Here’s what happened this morning:

Uber app: Rider request, National City, 12 minutes

Russel: “12 minutes? Are there no Uber drivers on President’s Day?” (as he swipes the app to accept the rider request.)

Uber app upon arrival at pickup location: “Wait for rider. Rider has been notified.”

Rider’s name is Honey. Remember that.

Female person as she opens the passenger side door: “Are you Russel?”

Russel: “Yes! Are you Honey?”

Female: “Yes.”

Russel: “Great! We found each other! Get in and let’s go!”

Honey: “First I have to ask if you’re a cop.”

Russel: “One of the few professions I have never been in.”

Honey: “Why should I believe you?”

Russel: “Well, you’re trusting a total stranger to pick you up just because he’s driving for Uber….”

Honey: “What do you want to do?”

Russel: “I don’t quite understand. Where would you like to go?”

Honey: “We could stay right here are the Clarion.” (which is the pick-up location)

Russel: “So you don’t need a ride anywhere?”

Honey: “I would love a ride!”

Russel: “So where to?”

Honey: “So you don’t want anything?”

Russel: “I’m just here to take you to wherever you need to go.”

Honey: “So you don’t want anything?”

Russel: “I don’t think we’re understanding each other.”

Honey: “I better go.” (as she gets out of the car)

Well, I did get paid a whopping $2.25 for driving 12 minutes (9 miles) to talk with her for 5 minutes. Perhaps she just needed someone to listen to her….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Officially an Uber driver!

I livew in my own little world

I’m not a very good hourly employee because companies limit me to working a mere 40 hours a week.

I guess you could say that I’m not a very good 40-hour-a-week employee either.

Thus, since Amazon will only schedule me for a maximum of 40 hours a week, and no more than 5 days a week, that leaves a lot of time over the course of the week to do other things. So……….

As of today, I’m officially an Uber driver!

The only thing I could ever think of regarding Uber was drivers picking up the drunks at midnight. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to do that. When upper-management executives, such as Benjamin Golden of Taco Bell, go into a drunken rage and attack the Uber driver (see Benjamin Golden attacks Uber driver), well, that’s not something that I want to be part of.

However, after talking to some co-workers at Amazon, I thought, “I don’t have to work at the midnight bewitching hour….”

UberThis morning, I made myself available to Uber at 7:00 a.m. just to see what would happen. Almost immediately I had a rider, and as soon as I dropped that rider off, I had another rider. In the course of 32 minutes and 24 miles, I made $14.00. Not a lot, but my Excel spreadsheet tells me that is $26.25 per hour, more than Amazon pays…. My 2015 Toyota Corolla LE Plus gets 35 miles per gallon, and gas right now is $2.659 per gallon, so my expenses there were a mere $1.82, leaving me with a net after expenses but before taxes of $12.18. I can handle that.

After reading more this morning of the Uber documents, tips, and tricks for being a successful Uber driver, apparently I am in a pretty good location. Within a five-mile radius of where Jim and I live are:

Major medical center.
Two major malls.
Two major downtown areas.
Three Walmarts—a super store, a neighborhood market, and a regular Walmart.
A major university with 35,000 students.

I’m going to make myself available to Uber each morning from 6:00 a.m. to noon for a week and see what happens, just how busy I can be and how much money I can make. I’m not anticipating many drunken idiots between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and noon so Benjamin Goldens shouldn’t be a problem….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Eat your carrots if you want to grow up to be big and strong

video logo

Dear Children:

If you eat your

carrots,

you will

grow up

to be

big and strong,

like a polar bear….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (1-18-2016)—”Sounds of Silence” celebrates its Golden Anniversary this month

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I started listening to rock music in late 1965 when I was in the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, Utah. I was in the troubled youth ward, either because my mom and stepdad put me there, or the State of Utah put me there. I’ll never know because mom and stepdad are dead, and the State of Utah records, as well as the Dee hospital records were destroyed long ago.

Nonetheless, I thought 2016 would be a great time to check out some of the albums which are celebrating their golden anniversary this year, so each month for one of my Music on Monday series, I’ll be highlighting an album from 1966. I’ll only be highlighting those which I own, which reside in my non-classical digital music collection.

First up is “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, released on January 17, 1966. I didn’t buy this album until 1971 when Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” beat out The Beatles’ “Let It Be” for the Song of the Year. As a Beatles fan, I vehemently disagreed with that choice. But it was a great song so I went off to explore other Simon & Garfunkel songs.

Following is the complete album, but if you only have time to listen to a couple of songs, listen to “The Sounds of Silence” (peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart) and “I Am A Rock” (peaked at #3).

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Sunrises

Picture of the Moment

I have sang at several weddings for friends, the last one in 1984 in Boerne, Texas.

The song I sang for Thad & Charlotte was “Sunrise, Sunset” from the movie “Fiddler on the Roof.”

While I liked the song and realized what it was about, without ever having seen the movie (it came out in 1971, while the musical is from 1964), I was the only one of my friends who was always up in time to watch the sunrise and late enough to bed to catch the sunset, so just the title of the song made it a favorite of mine.

Sunrises and sunsets in 2016 here in the San Diego area have been spectacular almost every day so far.

Following are two of my favorite sunrises, the first one being from this morning.

San Diego (La Mesa) sunrise, January 14, 2016

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego (La Mesa) sunrise, January 6, 2016

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