In the early days of Youtube, uploaded videos were limited to 10 minutes in length. Over time, users in “good standing” had their limits increased to a full hour. Last night when I went to upload a video to Youtube, I discovered that my limit had been decreased back down to 15 minutes for “repeated copyright violations.” Youtube was kind enough to provide a link to the multiple claims against my videos (there were 10). Here were the infractions:
- I received one infraction for uploading a video of Mason singing Weird Al’s “The White Stuff” to a karaoke version of The New Kids on the Block song “The Right Stuff” at his 3rd grade talent show while dressed as an Oreo Cookie. The complaint said that this video contained copyrighted New Kids on the Block music, which it did not.
- I received an additional three infractions for three more videos I recorded at the talent show. The fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teachers each came out and performed a song: “Candy Man,” “Thriller,” and the theme to Green Acres. That’s right. Youtube does not allow videos of middle-aged women singing the theme to Green Acres. In retrospect, maybe that’s for the best.
- I received one infraction for uploading a video of Susan and Morgan playing “Michael Jackson: The Experience” on the Nintendo Wii. Youtube complained that this video contains copyrighted Michael Jackson songs in the background. Note that this video did not contain any footage of the game, and all the music you could hear in the clip was underneath the sound of Morgan yelling and Susan laughing. Also note that a search on Youtube for “Michael Jackson The Experience” returns 532,000 results.
- I received one infraction for uploading a video I shot while out looking at Christmas lights. Again, the background music was the problem. A Christmas song was playing on the radio in the background as I shot the video.
- I received two infractions for uploading videos of Guns and Roses performing live in Las Vegas that I shot with my cell phone. I cannot argue with that one as I agree that those songs are copyrighted, but I’m still a little baffled. Searching Youtube for “Guns and Roses live” returns 1,420,000 results. Also, someone recorded the entire concert and uploaded it to Youtube. Search Youtube for “Guns N Roses Full Show” and you’ll find 648,000 results, ranging from the early 90s all the way to 2012.
- I received one infraction for my video “Out of Space,” in which I showed off my collection of arcade games. In this video, Phil Collins’ “Take me Home” was playing in the background on the radio.
- I received two infractions for my Literal Music Video version of “The Cars -- Drive”. In a Literal Music Video, people replace the lyrics of songs with new lyrics explaining quite literally what’s happening in the song. Here’s one of the wittiest and best examples:
That particular video has been deleted and re-uploaded at least a dozen times. Inspired by that video and others, I made my own for the Cars song, “Drive”. Because it pained me to delete it, I took a screen shot of mine before removing it:
98,615 people watched that video. Based on the feedback I got, most of them laughed. A few of them, based on my singing, told me not to quit my day job. (That was never the plan.) This video received two complains, one for the music (again, it was the karaoke version, not the real version) and a second one for the video itself.
Note that in none of these cases was I making any money off of any of these videos. I did not have “monetize” clicked nor did I have any ads on any of my videos. The video of Mason singing “The White Stuff” had 58 views; the ones of his teachers singing had fewer than that.
Youtube offered me a few alternatives to correct these videos: change or remove the audio, dispute the claims, or delete the videos. For the videos of my home arcade and the Christmas lights, I removed the audio. If you end up watching those videos, turn on some music in your house. (Not too loudly — Youtube is listening!) For all of the other videos except for one, I deleted them. There’s no since in leaving a video of Guns and Roses performing on Youtube with no audio, especially when there are half a million better versions of them playing on Youtube!
The one video I challenged was Mason singing in the talent show. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think whoever owns the copyright to the New Kids on the Block can file a claim against a video in which that song does not appear. Maybe I’m wrong; we’ll see. For the time being though, my rights have been reinstated and I can now again upload videos!
I came up with this idea a month or two ago and it’s been rattling around in the back of my head ever since.
Hey, look who’s up there rappelling off of the loft down into our living room — it’s G.I.Joe*!
(It’s not really G.I.Joe. Or maybe it is. It’s three random military figures I bought at Vintage Stock for a couple bucks each. The two guys standing above were $1 for 2 and came from Family Dollar.)
Morgan was my partner in crime on this project. She and I poked three holes into a small piece of cardboard and ran black yarn through the holes, tying knots in the end of the yard and securing the ends with pieces of tape. With that done we wrapped the other end around our rappelling soldiers and dropped them over the edge. Whee! The two “guards” standing at the top are standing on small, rolled loops of tape.
My guess is that this particular display piece will remain in place until either Susan or the cat removes them. We’ve already found one of the two guards down (“Medic!”), an apparent victim of a random cat attack. We’ll see how the others fare over time.
I first set up a Hallowindow display back in 2010. If you’ll recall, Hallowindow is a set of videos created by Mark Gervais that are designed to be projected on to a window during Halloween! I checked Mark’s site this year and saw that Hallowindow 5 had been released, so I decided to purchase that one as well, and set up another Hallowindow display this year!
This is the setup from inside the house (in my Star Wars room, no less). I purchase the digital download versions of Mark’s videos, but you can also buy them on DVD. Since I use the digital versions, I play them on my laptop using VLC and route the video out to a projector. In front of the window I hang a white sheet. The main video montages come in both “regular” and “reversed” formats. If you’re doing rear projection (like I am), you’ll want to run the reversed video clips. (Or, you can mirror-flip the videos in VLC as well.) VLC also has the ability to use and loop a playlist, so that’s what I do. (Protip: dig down in the video settings and you can turn off the displaying of the file name whenever a new video starts!) The only thing you can’t see in this picture is I am routing the audio from my laptop to a stereo tuner and out to two small speakers that I have placed in the window sill.
Above you can see why the reversed versions are important. From outside the house, the text displays the right way.
Just so I don’t have to keep running upstairs to stop/start things, I remote into the laptop from my desktop and do things remotely. Once we had everything up and running it was time to run outside and take a look!
The effect outside is quite impressive. The darker it is, the better it looks. The last time I did this we had dozens of people standing around outside, some of them watching the entire 10+ minute video loop. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.
Here’s a test video the kids and I shot from the front yard, doing a quick audio/video check. Looks good — expect to see Hallowindow up and running Halloween night!
Little Charlie Manson never met his biological father, a 23-year-old con man named Colonel Walker Scott (Colonel was his first name, not a military ranking) who skipped out of town the moment he discovered 15-year-old Kathleen Maddox was pregnant. Not long after her son was born Kathleen married William Manson, another man who exited Kathleen’s life almost as quickly as he entered it. By the time little Charlie was 5-years-old he was shuffled off to live with an aunt and uncle after both his mother and another one of his uncles had been sent to prison for strong armed robbery. After Manson came home crying from his first day of first grade at a new school, his uncle sent him back to school on the second day wearing a dress. When Manson’s mother was paroled from prison a few years later, the two of them lived in dirty hotels while she worked as a prostitute.
When pitting nature vs. nurture, Charles Manson never had a chance. Described by everybody who ever met him as an incorrigible youth and a habitual liar with violent tendencies, Manson spent the majority of his teen years locked up in reform schools where he was beaten or raped (or both) on a daily basis. He got picked up for stealing cars and committing multiple armed robberies by the age of 13. When his aunt and uncle felt sorry for him and had him over for Christmas dinner as a young teenager, he waited until they left the house and stole his uncle’s gun.
Unlike Helter Skelter, the best selling true crime novel of all time which focused on the Tate/LaBianca murders (and written by the prosecuting attorney), Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn is the biography of Charles Manson. It is perhaps the only thing I have ever read about Manson that made me feel any empathy toward him.
More than anything, Manson points out dozens of pivotal points throughout Charlie’s life. While in prison, Charlie gets housed with pimps who teach him the best way to pick girls and brainwash them. Also while in prison, Manson attends the classic Dale Carnegie course “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Most of the techniques Manson used to mentally control members of the Family came directly from this course.
After having spent more than half of his life incarcerated Manson gets released from prison and lands smack dab in the middle the Haight-Ashbury hippie heyday. By then lost souls from all around the country were flocking to San Francisco looking not just for peace, love and drugs, but someone to show them “the way.” Manson did just that. And while things may have gotten a little out of control, they didn’t get violent — at least not for a while. (Spoiler alert: eventually they do.)
Throughout 700 pages, Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson takes readers through the life and times of Charles Manson, from several years before his birth through his countless encounters with the law, his court trial, and of course, “Helter Skelter,” Charlie’s prediction of an impending race war. Author Guinn performed dozens upon dozens of interviews, some of which (like Manson’s cousin he lived with and half-sister) had never previously agreed to be interviewed. Understandably, many of the people interviewed for this book prefer to avoid the limelight and being associated with the infamous Charles Manson.
One of the recurring themes throughout the book is that, above all, Charles Manson wanted to be a rock star. Most of the Family’s efforts early on were geared toward making that happen. Based on Manson’s lifelong history of criminal behavior it’s hard to say whether getting signed to a record label would have changed the bloody outcome of history, but you never know. The failure of Manson’s music career is only one of multiple factors that eventually culminated into the murders that took place in August of 1969.
Some of the most detailed and frustrating stories in the book come during the police department’s investiagation into the Hinman, Tate, and LaBianca murders. Despite the fact that all three crime scenes had some variation of the word “pig” written in the victims’ blood on the walls, investigators failed to link the three crime scenes together. A “Black Panther” sign left at one of the crime scenes was overlooked. Police arriving at the Tate household carelessly destroyed fingerprint evidence. A man and his son found the murder weapon (a .22 pistol) and turned it over to police; four months later the police announced they were still looking for it, despite the fact that the man and his son had called investigators back twice urging them to recheck the gun they had already turned in. Merely weeks after the Tate/LaBianca murders had been committed and despite the fact that everyone involved had told at least one other person or group of people (many of whom had in turn told other people), police could not crack the case. When a female inmate told a deputy her cellmate (Susan Adkins) had confessed to her that she had committed the murders and asked to call investigators, her request was denied. When she pleased with the deputy to call on her behalf, that request was denied too. When the inmate eventually called the LAPD and told them her story they told her it was a county case, not a city case, and they hung up on her. When they called the county, they said they would send someone out to speak with her that day. They didn’t. Throughout all of the investigation all of the Family members were in jail (including Manson himself) on unrelated charges — mostly for possessing weapons, drugs, and stolen cars. Four months after the murders were committed, police stated through a newspaper article that they were still looking for the killers’ discarded clothes. It took ABC news reporters 10 minutes to find the bloody clothes based on the information provided in the article! It is truly, truly amazing that the police were able to ever arrest and prosecute anyone for these crimes, despite their best efforts to bungle the investigation at every turn.
I wasn’t born until four years after the Tate/LaBianca murders were committed. Other than through Helter skelter my only exposure to Charles Manson and the Family has been through a few documentaries, books, and jailhouse interviews. The one question I’m not sure will ever be answered is how much of his own tales does Manson himself believe. Whether Charles Manson truly believed he would find a bottomless pit out in the desert where the Family could hide in until Helter Skelter blew over, who’s to say?
Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson is the most complete book I’ve ever read covering the life of Charles Manson. I can’t think of a single detail or fact I’ve ever read about Manson, the Family, or those horrible murders that isn’t covered in this book. The book does a good job of explaining where Manson came from and how he and a bunch of brainwashed followers ended up bringing abut an abrupt end to the Summer of Love.
Yesterday was the first day I reported to work in 26 days. I found where I normally sit without the use of a GPS, but only barely. The week before the furloughs began I was in Arizona attending a Microsoft Server 2012 class. I drove home the following weekend, but the fifteen or so hours in the car did a number on my back and so I stayed home in bed on Monday — after all, they weren’t really going to furlough us the following day, were they? And if they did, surely the federal government would recognize my personal contributions to our agency’s IT program and would declare me essential personnel. I sat around waiting for a personal call from the President.
And then it happened. I mean the furlough part, not the personal presidential pardon I was hoping for. I found out via CNN that I had been furloughed. The guidance delivered to us was pretty simple: don’t report to work or use any government equipment or resources until you are told to do so.
So, we didn’t. And the first couple of days were pretty fun. You can scroll back through my posts and see what all we did. I recorded some podcasts. We went to some garage sales. went to the movies. We sought out places offering discounts to furloughed employees (there weren’t many in Oklahoma). Then we started hearing rumors that we might not receive back pay, and as I mentioned in my previous furlough post, we went on “lockdown mode” and quit spending money. Susan spent some money at Aldi’s; I spent some at the liquor store. I built a personal movie theater out of a cardboard box, stopped showering and changing clothes, and started wearing a Boba Fett helmet around the house. Things got weird there for a little bit. At one point we heard we were getting back pay. At one point we heard we were no getting back pay. At one point we heard we might be getting partial back pay. The only thing we knew for sure was that the bills hasn’t stopped coming in, but the money had.
We found out that the furlough had ended the same way we discovered it had began, via CNN. Thursday morning was a cluster of confusion with very few people knowing for sure if they were supposed to report to work or not. I checked Facebook to see what my co-workers were doing. Based on an informal survey it appeared 1/3 of them were headed into the office, 1/3 of them were waiting for formal notification, and 1/3 of them play too much Candy Crush.
All’s well that ends well I suppose. We are getting back pay, so that’s good. I mean, it’s bad in the fact that we got paid for time we didn’t work, but as I joked on Twitter, “I dislike getting paid for time I didn’t work, but I dislike being late on my bills more than that.” I still don’t know if we will be getting a normal paycheck next week or if the furlough back pay will be delivered to us on the check after that. If that’s the case, we will have gone essentially a month with no income. (EDIT: Today we were informed that our back pay should arrive next week — hurrah!) With talks of this potentially happening again in January, we’ll be better prepared next time. Live and learn I guess. The thought of going for weeks without a paycheck was enough to push some of my co-workers into primping their resumes and several of them were on the verge of sending them out. To be honest I am surprised that everybody i work with returned to work, and if this happens again in January I do not expect a 100% return rate.
Whenever I mention the furlough to non-co-workers they want to discuss the pros or cons of Obamacare or give their opinion on whose fault this was. And while those are all things that can and should be discussed, we weren’t thinking about them at all over the past few weeks. All we were worried about was making next month’s car and house payments. I seems we will be okay, but there was a small window in time in which we weren’t 100% sure. We still have a few weeks of letting monies settle back into their proper piles, but it looks like, at least this time, everything’s gonna be alright.
I currently own two cases for my Raspberry Pi. One is the gigantic red plastic case that came with it. The other is one I made out of a plastic Pop-Tart I bought at Big Lots. You can see both of those cases here.
Enter my friend Aardvark. Aardvark is a very talented guy who plays guitar and once made a remote controlled phone. Aardvark also does CNC milling, and when he saw my terrible attempt at making my own Raspberry Pi case, he decided to take a stab at making one for me. The day after we had this conversation, Aardvark sent me the following picture:
Now truth be told, I would have been the happiest nerd to simply receive an aluminum box with the Commodore logo on it and use that as a case, but Aardvark had bigger plans. “I need a few pictures of a Commodore 1541 disk drive,” he said, and so that night I took a few and mailed them to me. The next day, I received the following:
With those rough designs, Aardvark went to work and did his thing. The next picture I received was of a rough Raspberry Pi case without any access holes cut out.
To cut the holes, Aardvark said he needed an actual Pi — and so I mailed him one. Paid for it with Paypal and had it shipped directly to him. With the Pi in hand, ‘Vark was able to make the necessary cuts for all of the Pi’s ports. I don’t presume to know how any of this is done. I’m pretty sure black magic is involved.
Thursday when I arrived home from work there was a package waiting for me from Aardvark. Could it be? It was! The case is held together with four tiny flat-head screws. I opened the case and dropped a Raspberry Pi into it. Perfect fit!
I was surprised at how small the case was, but the Pi fits perfectly inside. Here’s the 1541-Pi case assembled, sitting on top of a real Commodore 1541 disk drive.
Food for though: Commodore 1541 floppy disks hold roughly 180k of information. The SD card hanging out of the front of the Raspberry Pi in this picture is an 8gb card which can hold approximately 48,000 Commodore 64 disks.
This weekend I hope to slap a coat of traditional “breadbox brown” paint on the 1541 Pi case, finishing it off. There’s just enough room on the front to add a couple of small red and green lights as well. Old habits die hard. :)
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Aardvark for this awesome case. I feel compelled to tell you that Aardvark would not accept any money for the case. He only made two of them, and I own half of them. Personally I think ‘Vark should start a Kickstarter to get his own CNC mill for the house. If he does, I will keep him in business for many years to come!
I love watching Mason’s gears turn. Last night he walked into the living room on a mission. “I need a cardboard box. I’m building a personal movie theater.” Susan found him a box, and a few minutes later he reappeared with this on his head:
The box has a small opening into which you can place an iPod/iPhone. Mason sat around the living room for a few minutes last night watching YouTube videos with a box on his head before he went to bed. It was the most ridiculous thing ever.
After he went to bed, I decided to make my own.
Mine as you can see had to be a bit larger to accommodate an iPad. My original design required the viewer to insert his or her head up into the box. The first modification I made was turning the back of the box into a “flap” to make viewing a bit more comfortable. I also added a box containing a case of soup cans to the top of the theater to weigh it down to keep the cat from flipping the box over and smashing my iPad. These are the types of things we theater owners have to think about.
Inside the theater there are three rows of seats. They’ll hold 3 3/4″ (aka “Star Wars scale”) figures but for my test run this morning, it was a solo viewing.
With the lights out you can still see the outline of the chairs. I plan on covering them with fabric later tonight. Not really. Well, maybe.
The debut of the theater was a success, so much so that Mason was almost late for school. After the debut showing of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the theater showed one Three Stooges short and one episode of Woody Woodpecker. The theater is now closed so that I can add an external set of computer speakers to pump up the theater’s sound system a bit. You can also rent out the theater for $1 per movie. All proceeds will go toward our furlough fund.
Every year, this small church in downtown Yukon does a three day garage sale. The sale runs the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after the Czech Festival, but we’ve never been on Thursday or Friday because Saturday (the last day of the sale) is “everything you can put in a paper grocery sack for a dollar” day. I’m sure Sunday is “all this stuff is going to Goodwill” day, so the church makes a few extra bucks the day before that happens and people load up on grocery sacks full of stuff. I think this was the third year in a row that we’ve gone to the sale. Here’s what I got today for a dollar. Again, not a dollar each — one dollar, total. First up is a hard-of-hearing bird and a skeleton pirate.
“I’m a skeleton, you know.”
Next up were these three DVDs.
“On the Edge” features 10 stand up comics including Dave Attell, Dane Cook, Lewis Black, and the late and oh-so-great Mitch Hedberg. Then there’s the Dennis Miller DVD that features, well, Dennis Miller. I think I already have Pump up the Volume on DVD but if we review this film on my Throwback Reviews podcast, I’ll give this copy away. There were another 20 or so DVDs at the sale but I had not heard of any of them and none of them looked like anything I would watch, so I left them. Next up, a few CDs.
“Space and Beyond” is a 2-CD compilation that contains themes from science fiction films and a bunch of sound effects. Likewise, “Screen Themes ’94″ contains songs from films released in 1994. That includes Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, True Lies and the Lion King. The third CD is Paul Simon’s “Songs from the Capeman.” Again, I left at least a hundred CDs behind.
This is a fake watermelon, a USB cable (of which I already own 9,000) and a Pez dispenser. I didn’t say they were all gems.
This is a brand new guitar strap. I own six guitars and two guitar straps and one of them is so janky that it’s literally duct taped in place. This will come in handy.
As for the other members of the family, Mason scored big in his search for Thunder things. In a box he found all of these signs, each one from a different playoff game.
From what I could tell, Morgan got a bag full of used ribbon and Christmas tinsel and I’m not sure what Susan got. If it was anything amazing there will be a follow up post.
I’m a creature of habit. I like patterns. I like getting up at the same time every day, taking a shower every day, going to work every day, going to lunch at the same time every day, and coming home every day. Maybe “like” is not the right word. I need some semblance of structure in my life.
I have to admit, our first couple of furlough days were kind of fun. It’s not often that Susan and I are both off work without the kids. We ran some errands, ate some food, went to the movies, and generally speaking enjoyed the time off. Susan got caught up on her homework and I got caught up on my podcasts. It wasn’t until somewhere around the end of day two that the reality of the situation began to sink in. On either day two or day three (the days really are beginning to run together at this point) Susan put us in “lock down mode.” When we’re in lock down mode I don’t get to buy anything fun and Susan stocks up on groceries and we do a lot of eating at home. You know you’re in lock down mode when you spend $150 at Aldi’s. You also know you’re bored when you look forward to grocery shopping at Aldi’s. One of the few positive side effects of the furlough is that over the past two weeks I’ve lost about 10 pounds — not from a lack of food but from a lack of eating, if that makes sense.
Based on the political climate right now I assumed there would be a furlough, but I did not assume it would last this long. Financially we’ll be okay, but it’s still scary. And when I say we’ll be okay, I mean that we have already looked into borrowing against our thrift savings plan. The vast majority of our savings went into the down payment on this house that we bought the year before last. We’ve been doubling up on car payments and house payments, which is a good way to pay off loans early but not a good way to build up a lot of extra savings. As it stands we can miss one paycheck and still be fine. If we miss two paychecks, that’s when we start talking about things like selling golf carts or motorcycles or cars. Susan has been talking about having another garage sale. I can tell you that if we sold everything in our garage that doesn’t have a motor we could come up with 1/10th of our next house payment.
We have looked into alternative forms of income, the first of which is unemployment. There’s a lot of misinformation out there on this one — first we were told we didn’t qualify, then we were told we would. Once you file and everything goes through it looks like could potentially collect $375 a week. Also depending on the source we have heard that we might have to pay that money back if we receive back pay. I also checked into substitute teaching and it looks like you can make ~$65/day doing that, once you have passed a background check and have been certified, which could take a couple of weeks. I could probably hustle up a computer repair gig or a web development project but the minute we are called back to work I would have to drop it. Susan officially vetoed my plan to charge $20 to people to have dinner with me. I was looking forward to the money and the food.
I mentioned back pay — that is, the government reimbursing us for this time off. The House voted and approved back pay for furloughed employees but the Senate has refused to vote on the subject. Again with the rumors — we will get back pay, we won’t get back pay, we’ll get 50% of our salary… who knows what will end up happening. If I knew for sure that I was going to receive back pay I wouldn’t be as stressed as I am now. I don’t like the idea of getting paid for sitting at home, but I like the idea of missing car and house payments even less. There is an assumption that if and when back pay is approved, we will be called back to work even if we are not getting paid at that time. Everybody assumes that we will receive back pay for this furlough. I can tell you that I was furloughed last year (only for one day) ad I did not receive back pay for that day.
A big source of frustration comes from most people not understanding who is being affected by the furlough. The national news media assumes that only rich, fat cats in Washington D.C. have been sent home. Not true. Even our local newspaper is quick to point out the people at Tinker that have been furloughed but rarely mentions the close to 7,500 people from the FAA that were sent home. 7,500 is a small fraction of 800,000 that doesn’t mean much, unless you’re one of them. My favorite conversation as of late is when people say “well since these people are non-essential, get rid of ‘em!” As an IT employee, being non-essential is no surprise to me. People always tell me I”m non-essential… until something breaks. Then I become very essential, very quickly. My very small group of IT professionals receive dozens if not hundreds of requests each week from help desks, computer specialists, end users, managers, you name it, needing our non-essential services. Each morning I get a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach wondering what has broken since we left and what fires we will have to put out when we return. I am not in a position to divulge everything I am worried about, but suffice it to say that I am worried.
As the furlough continues to drag on the days are running together and dragging on. Last night I recorded two video podcasts, edited a third audio one, wrote some custom PHP code, worked on website, played some games… and looked up and discovered it was 3:45 A.M. The days have turned into minor trips outside the home to maintain our sanity with a light sprinkling to naps throughout the day. Earlier today at the thrift store I picked up a book on how to paint animals on rocks. I wish I were kidding.
That’s another thing. When I’m bored, I tend to shop. That’s a really bad habit to have when you don’t know when your next paycheck is coming. Yes we went to the thrift store today, and yes we had a couple of long island iced teas for lunch yesterday, but for the most part we’re hunkering down. There have been no McDonald’s breakfasts, no dinner buffets, no Star Wars treasure hunts on eBay… none of that. Lots of free activities right now, like reading and writing and possibly painting animals on rocks tomorrow.
Yes the furlough was fun the first couple of days and yes we are trying to make the best use of our time right now as we can. That being said, we just want to go back to work and earn our paychecks.
A few months back I wrote about the food trucks in Washington DC I visited while I was there. I love the concept of food trucks. When I’m in Washington DC, it is so convenient to simply walk out the front door of our building and have 30 or more food trucks to choose from. I wish we had something like this near where I work but, we don’t. I have only purchased food from one food truck in Oklahoma (Big Truck Tacos) and that was because they have catered a few events we’ve attended.
I’ve seen the name La Gumbo Ya Ya a few times on Facebook (and really, how could you forget it) but hadn’t had the chance to try their food yet. They claim to offer “the BEST New Orleans style Po-Boys in Oklahoma City,” but unfortunately for me they tend to offer them on the north side of town and I work on the south side. “Po me.”
Through social media I heard that La Gumbo Ya Ya was offering free lunches to furloughed government employees with their furlough letters in hand. Since Susan and I are (a) currently furloughed and (b) always up for an adventure, we decided to take the Gumbo truck up on their generous offer. With our furlough letters in hand (and our badges in our pockets, just in case) we sought out La Gumbo Ya Ya for our free meals. The simplest way to find where La Gumbo Ya Ya will be is by following them on Twitter or Facebook, where they post both their upcoming locations and their daily menu. Wednesday, their menu included “Crawfish Jambalaya, Shrimp Gumbo, Sausage PoBoy, and Rice-o Rico,” and they were located at 525 Central Park, about 20 minutes from our house. (Spoiler: I will drive 20 minutes for free gumbo.)
After locating the truck we approached with our furlough letters in hand. After presenting them we were told to order anything we like. Susan’s not a huge fan of seafood so she ordered the Rice-o-Rico and I had the Shrimp Gumbo. The couple running the truck said that we were the first two “free furlough lunches” they had handed out. One of the owners told us a little about the history of po-boy sandwiches and how the tradition came from the 1920s, when free sandwiches were handed out to workers on strike. He said it seemed only fitting that La Gumbo Ya Ya keep the spirit alive and do the same. He also told us that he was serving in the military during the last furlough, so he knew what it was like.
While I am not just saying this because it was free, but in the parking lot of Central Park that day I had the best bowl of Shrimp Gumbo I have ever had. The shrimp, okra and rice were perfect, mixed with just enough spice to bring the dish alive. Susan said her bowl of vegetables were delicious too. While we were grateful for the free lunch, we were more grateful to receive a bit of generosity from a local business. Susan and I are by no means anywhere near starving, but saving $15 during lunch during a week of no pay helps. Aside from all that, La Gumbo Ya Ya has absolutely delicious food and earned two new customers out of the deal.