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Episode 124 – VPN Security and Christmas Music

Overview

Tech is always on top of our list (and we don’t have to check it twice.) This time its VPN (virtual private networks). If you aren’t sure if you need one, listen in and find out more.

We do have a Christmas talk – it is that time of year. Alan is finding new music to listen to and has gotten plenty of suggestions.

Recommendations

https://www.expressvpn.com/

Carl Palmer Official Web Site – Carl Palmer Official Global Web Site

ProgJect | The Ultimate Prog Rock Experience

New Year’s Eve Celebration with the Music of James Bond – The Cleveland Pops Orchestra

Sugarcreek Cuckoo Clock – Sugarcreek, Ohio – Wikipedia

YouTube

Transcript

Stephen: Good morning,

Alan: Alan. Yes. I still haven’t found Christmasy things to share, so I

Stephen: guess I’ll have to send you all the library I collected a couple years ago, .

Alan: Okay. I would appreciate that. Cause I think that they’re cross platform easy and stuff like that. And let me turn off a whole bunch of other stuff so that I have all the bandwidth to dedicate to Right.

our

Stephen: little podcast. Okay. You notice my background looks very Christmasy, but if you look real close at the Christmas tree, it’s Marvel characters. .

Alan: I do see that. I’m, I’ve seen Grot and I’m trying to think exactly. Okay. And distorted versions of them. So they’re their elephant versions of things.

Stephen: Yes. Yes. That’s, and then I got my Santa hat on today. .

Alan: Very good. . See, boy, I. . Give me a moment. Let me see if I can, I gotta have something better than the Northern Lights. I don’t wanna ever do one where it’s, two in a row, the same thing. Yeah. How about how

Stephen: about a library?

Have we had a library? Libraries, library’s always good on a cold winter day when it’s wishing for snow.

Alan: 40 something. Exactly.

Stephen: So look what I got. I got holiday cupcakes. They’re limited addition, so that means if I keep ’em for 25 or 30 years, they’ll be worth money. Because it’s limited addition.

Alan: Yes. And the sad thing about that is I know I’ve seen scientific studies where they like took a Twinkie and did indeed leave it alone for decades and it was still standards wise, fresh enough to eat. Yeah. So whatever is Twinky, I don’t know about cupcakes, but I’m pretty sure. There’s no more real food in those.

They’re all like trisodium, cupcake eight and stuff like that. They’re made out of chemical things that simulate frosting and simulate brown cake and stuff like that with a little cream filling that, who knows what that’s been for a long

Stephen: time. But it’s Christmas, so it doesn’t really count

That’s true.

Alan: I try to get as many petroleum products into me as possible, right? It’s all the microplastic sides. Oh my god. It’s funny. Some people really, my old, my younger brother loves Dingdong, for instance, that it’s just the right amount of chocolate and cake and filling for him, and so many things are too sweet for me.

Or they just taste fake and plastic in. Yes. And so it’s I’ll take one, but he’ll go through a box and I’m, wow. don’t know how people’s taste buds. There’s no accounting for how various different things are hot, sweet, whatever else it might be. And yet that artificial thing, especially where they like coat your mouth, that you can feel that whatever they’ve done to simulate fat, all the esters or whatever,

Stephen: they’re,

Alan: it makes me feel like I gotta get it out.

You know what I mean I’m a cat going the hairball or something like that.

Stephen: honestly. I’ll probably take a couple bites of one of ’em and I probably won’t even finish that one. And I’ll give the other to somebody else. throw it away. It was just I got Winter wonderland hot Coco. I’m like, Ooh, it’s not that good either.

Alan: And it’s funny, I don’t know, it was the holidays. It’s let’s try some pumpkin spice. Let’s do, my colleague, for instance, she loves, she’s a purest about coffee and there’s all kinds of Christmas brews, if you will. Yes. And I’ve gotten her a couple and after a while I’ve stopped because she doesn’t care about the cinnamon and clove.

She doesn’t care about all the additives. She really just wants to straight up coffee. Agreed. And I guess there’s Christmas beers, where it’s like I, I. I think I like the things that Taste of Christmas, but I like make me a cookie. Don’t take something that I already like and get me Christmas Diet Dr.

Pepper or something like that. I, cookies,

Stephen: cookies are so subjective because we get cookies from people and I went to an event where they were doing a fundraiser selling cookies and Right. Almost every time’s yeah, none of these are that good. It’s not worth my, they’re, they just don’t taste good.

I don’t know what people do. .

Alan: Yeah. You know what my solution for that is? I love baking and a number of, I just revived the thing last year cause I hadn’t done it for a long time. I, my mom had a real good recipe for Chocolate chip cookies, Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies. But instead of making ’em only with chocolate chips, I get the MIT chocolate chip and the butterscotch and the dark chocolate and whatever else it might be.

And then I make a variety of them and I’m not the devil that then tries to put in, mix ’em all together. So you don’t know whether you’re gonna get the bittersweet versus the milk chocolate. And most of them you can tell that they give like the mint, huh? It’s green. You might be able to sell, but I, they’ve been a hit when I brought them because it’s not only cookies, it’s a variety.

And I guess the base cookie is, It’s the right amount of crunch and chew that it tastes okay as the delivery mechanism, for these very southern flavors. You know what I,

Stephen: so you know, that’s kinda the same way they talk about doing specimens in the Petri dishes in laboratory stuff. .

Alan: Exactly. You put a little couple dots there.

Let’s see how the e coli strain X, y, Z grows over here.

Stephen: Exactly. Hey, you, before we talk more Christmas stuff, you were talking about you just researched and got a V P N. So I’m curious what your research up, because my V P n came with a whole package with my antivirus, my password protection and all that stuff

Alan: So the, I have been, I’m not super secure. Most of, I have, my, my router has, I’ve got everything set up at home so that I’m really pretty safe here though. I have. All the right appropriate things with the router where I do things through proxy, I do things through I always go to secure websites.

You can always see the https s and that it does all that negotiations, so I’m pretty sure that’s okay. But they’ve become more and more intrusive with how many trackers are working on you. And there’s places where, like when you go to Facebook and the web has always had this, every single browser, I can’t say that there’s some that specialize in not having this stuff.

They have little pixels or ways of tracking based on your IP address or your movement. You, you develop a fingerprint, it’s obvious, hey, if I’m almost going to the comic book, the site, and then my check my investments and then I go to Facebook for a while, they’re pretty sure that whatever my IP address is me.

So I, I’ve been not only at home, I’ve been out traveling as this whole last year has been being out in California and my parents set up didn’t have all those things set up than I did. So I tried more armoring, my laptop. and, but it still was, when I’m in the airport and I’m using a free connection, right when I’m just out at McDonald’s, a coffee shop, a library where I’ve ended up at various different times while I’m waiting for other things to happen, I just was seeing enough suspicious activity, not only in tracking me, but just thank God I didn’t have anything.

Where at one point when we were moving stuff up for Colleen, son Tim in Wisconsin, we stayed at a hotel that right after we stayed there, things were charged to my credit card because I had used the credit card for doing something there. And like everybody, there’s always the possibility for sniffers, for people that are monitoring internet traffic on a, on an open line, if you will, where there’s no encryption.

And I. Whatever I was using didn’t seem to be successful enough. I had been using let’s see, Omni Vpn n Nord, V P n I had tried various different ones and a couple of ’em are inexpensive or free. They’re open source, which usually I kind of trust because I like the idea that open source is not a proprietary thing.

That it doesn’t really get tested. Open source gets tested by everyone, right? And they really are usually able to determine that this is, the encryption level is fine. The, there’s no man in the middle attacks possible and stuff. And we, it’s funny, I really love this stuff, but I don’t, it’s not easy to talk about it without giving a whole bunch of background as to the people.

To most people, the internet just works. But if you really understand what’s going on with seven 11 protocol and where you are physically and virtually and all that kind of stuff, there’s lots of things that have to work well to get you where you want to go. All the d n s naming and all the kind of stuff.

And there’s a lot of things because the internet wasn’t , was based on openness, the whole point of the internet was, we’re gonna get this packet from here to here without fail. And in order to do that, here’s how the addressing scheme works and so forth. Baking insecurity afterwards to establish secure connections, to establish encryption, to start to have all that stuff was an add-on.

And unless you configure it well, and unless you keep it updated, it deteriorates over the course of time. You know what I mean? So I didn’t try every p n out there and do my own research, but I have an idea of what I’m looking for. I really wanted it to be that when I, some of the VPNs, the reason I started, I shied away from using them was you put it in place and I sure am safe.

And then everything is twice as slow. Everything. And certain things just don’t work. If you’re like trying to get tickets through Ticketmaster and you get to the payment page and the popup won’t come up because it’s blocking popups and that’s. Not a VPN itself, but there’s other, again, layers and, in your browsers you can have ad blockers, content blockers privacy badger that someone mentioned when I mentioned this online.

A whole bunch of people chimed in with their good stuff, their favorites. And I’ve, I trust, for instance, the e f the electronic frontier Foundation, right? That they’ve created this thing and have like my same standards where my, their heart is in the same place in terms of the right amount of security and privacy and that it’s not open source built, but that the way it works is you they maintain blacklist and whitelist.

And it’s not just you, it’s also the world. And in fact, a number of investments that I’m into, Cloud strike they are good because they don’t just try to say, we’ll maintain our list of who the good and bad actors are, the good and bad d n s addresses and all that kind of stuff. D we will let the whole world feed us that information and put in the algorithms that do the right amount of security without over blocking.

Cuz I’ve had things like a whole things get going from whitelist to blacklist and then an entire top level dn, IP address, everything underneath it gets blocked. And so this bad guy was on the same thing as National Geographic was, and all of a sudden, why can’t I get to I read there’s people that their job, they, and their joy is doing all this stuff,

Stephen: testing how it works.

Let me interject real quick before you talk about your research and what you did. So two, two things. One of the hardest thing with the VPNs is, like you said, blocking and not blocking. Cause you go to Ticketmaster and you may even know and understand how to add a website whitelisted into your V P N and your antivirus and , all of those.

But right what it’s using is another third party service to do the payment. And so that’s not, or it’s using a third party service, which is also using part of this other company’s service. So you may get part of it, but not the other part. And. It’s very frustrating and even I understand what I’m doing and how it works and what I’m looking for.

And there are sites when I’m like, oh yeah, I have to turn it completely off when I go to this site cuz I can’t get it whitelisted no matter what I do. And that’s, yeah,

Alan: a danger. I’m trying to maintain a little list, like a paper list off to the side of my thing where it’s like before you go in using Safari or, I not only use Safari though, that’s my preferred one, but Chrome and Firefox and Opera and Edge and the major ones Duck.

And it’s funny. Some browsers, they’re inseparable from their search engine or whatever else it might be. And yet there’s a big difference between duck dot Go is a site, not its own browser. So it, but I see what you exec, what you’re saying early on, they, because places all didn’t want to maintain their payment system, where it had to have that level of real securities that they couldn’t have somebody come in and steal credit card numbers from ’em because they didn’t know what they were doing.

So there started to be those various different places that they handed off at the end. , if that handoff is suspicious and suspicious doesn’t have to mean anything bad. It just is, oh, you’re going to another site. I don’t trust this other site as much as the one you’re currently on.

It’s that. So I. So as a consumer, I bump into that. You trying to do it programmatically that whatever you’re working on, to try to make sure that your payment systems Yeah. A lot of people have a storefront app and then that storefront app. A big part of its job is not only making sure that it’s safe, but make sure that the world knows don’t stop me , don’t block me.

You

Stephen: know what I mean? And with that, before you talk about all your research, you mentioned open source in that for the lesser know knowledgeable geeks of V P N. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s open source. And especially if it’s free question it, whether it’s trustworthy, because there are, especially on your phones, there are companies out there that will make an app.

Oh, free V p N will block all this stuff. And what they’re really doing is gathering everywhere you go, your information Oh, graphic. Because they’re really hackers. There’s things you gotta be careful. That’s why Absolutely. What you did the research. I use the VPN n attached to my Kaspersky total suite antivirus, and it’s also my bank vault for all my passwords.

So it was like a whole big suite. Couple years ago I looked into it, it was highly recommended, multiple trustworthy sites and I’ve just kept it, all those years.

Alan: So that, that, that’s its own good recommendation that it’s been around for a while. That, that it has multiple, of course.

That’s what I’m discovering now is that now that I’ve adopted this V P N I myself, Don’t use a password manager except what’s built into Safari and it’s got a good one. It suggests appropriately dense passwords and keeps track of them for you with a master password that lets you get to everything.

And so I, and it sadly, there’s one pass, last pass. There’s a number of password managers out there and I think it was last pass, right? That just got penetrated. So here’s the one that’s purporting to, I’ll save all your passwords, I’ll remain ultra secure and then you can use ’em everywhere you go.

And they’ve been penetrated twice. Yeah. And so of course it, it makes sense. What would be a bigger hacker target than the repository for everyone’s passwords everywhere.

Stephen: Which speaks to a couple things that you know, you can’t just blindly trust everything out there just cuz it’s a big company cuz they’re the ones getting touch more.

And the power of our computers now make pro, if you have a six character password that’s a dictionary word, you might as well just leave it wide open. That’s not even a password anymore. My password bank that Kaspersky has, a couple years ago, it defaulted to eight characters when it created a random password, and then they changed it up to 10 and then 12.

And now by default it generates 16 character random passwords with capitals, lowercase numbers, symbols, and way more symbols than letters and numbers. So you can’t memorize them. And if you do that well, oh, I’m gonna make a password. I memorized you’re done you’re hacked. You know already.

And I had that discussion. Oh my gosh. With something somebody said, oh, I’m just sharing this on Facebook. It’s fun. And you just gave them the information that your account exists, that you grew up on this road. You had a dog named this. They’re going to go guess your password on your bank and Oh, it was Google.

That’s right. Me and my cousin are selling stuff on Facebook and immediately when you post something to sell, Within 30 seconds, you’ll get four or five people saying, Hey, I really want this. Give me your phone number. And we’ll set up a ta. Wow. And it’s that fast. And what, and then they,

Alan: that’s a standard attack.

Stephen: Exactly. Yeah. And almost everybody on Facebook uses Google phone to protect their phone number. So they say, Hey, I wanna I wanna you to call me, but it’s asking for the Google ID code. It just got sent to your phone. Give that to me. And you can call me. What they’re doing is resetting your password and getting control of your Google Voice number.

Alan: There you go. And then charge things to it, et cetera, et cetera. Yeah, that’s right. So anyway it’s honestly I’ll digress in an interesting way. So while I am getting a little bit more secure and paranoid and so forth it’s long ago, any number of big smart people, the Bruce let’s see.

Schneider of the world had books about. Honestly, privacy’s already gone. If you’ve had any presence all the way back to the days of BBSs, CompuServe, a o l, et cetera, anything you’ve ever done on the internet is on the in, is in the internet archive. This thing roams around spiders the web and takes snapshots of everything.

So even if you think that all you did was post to the kitten grooming website, it’s out there for people to find in some way. So I just read an article in Wired Magazine about the dark web and how at one time the Pirate Bay was the biggest purveyor of naughty stuff drugs, and I don’t know about munitions, but all kinds of things that you would find difficult walking into a store and buying.

You could get them by putting in Bitcoins or anonymous fund sources. And they eventually found the guy that did the Pirate Bay. A whole bunch of people were vying to then be the next big site. And apparently either I think it’s called, maybe it’s Alpha Bay, but at least Alpha is involved. The main guy, alpha zero two, that created this was really a good coder.

So everything about how he built his new dark website really was as good as you could get with no leaks, no good encryption, et cetera, et cetera. But the way that they caught him was, it turns out that this guy is maybe late twenties. What You don’t get a late spontaneous hacker at late twenties.

They probably have been doing it since they were 13 and they were young and bold and they were in the Legion of Doom, or any number of hacker groups and they might have unfortunately, Everywhere I go, I’m Alan Baldis. And back when college I was boy with brain in a jar and you just kinda fall in love with a numb to plume and you use that everywhere.

So did Alpha zero two. He had done all kinds of things in all kinds of places until he became aware of I really need to go below the surface and live in the Merck. They were able to trade track all kinds of information into his past to be able to find it. It’s probably a guy, a guy named Alexander Chavez, if I remember right.

And of course he kept talking about how he was affiliated with the Russians and probably lived in Europe and so forth. No, all that was a ruse. Social engineering wise. He actually lived in Thailand in a nice anonymous little house, but it was, he made so much money that he had like money stuffed into the walls of his house, money in stacks on the floor.

If you ever came into his house, you would know this guy isn’t legit . So I, that’s that whole way of saying there really is a reason to be. Not paranoid, but cautious because if you’re a good actor, they don’t care about me. They care about knowing, Hey, I just bought a lot of Christmas CDs and now I’m gonna see if he wants more.

and people make fun of that. Hey, I bought a humidifier. Apparently all the humidifier places think I want the collection of humidifiers because now I’m getting all the humidifier ads. Now I needed the one. Thank you. It’s my doing this and another big theory about this and the, like I said, I really have big fans, the the gentleman Phil Zimmer I really should be able to like, I don’t know these guys, but I know of them.

And I, and actually I’ve had some conversations at Aons and stuff with them. They’re really good at, it isn’t about being perfect necessarily, but it is about just why do you have things to secure your house? You’re not trying to be like a moted castle, but you are trying to say, 90% of what happens bad is opportunistic crime, then at least don’t be the most open, stupid.

Come and get me type guy. Put up the sign that says I have a security system, have a doorbell that when it rings your dog barked the fake dog bark. If you want to do that, all those little things are gonna say, I think I’ll just go down the street and I’ll see who’s a little bit more open and I don’t have to worry about getting mauled by this guy’s bull master and stuff like that.

Ok. So that’s what I’m trying to do is I don’t want my job to be full-time security and be paranoid about, I never go anywhere without making sure I hope I haven’t paid a huge penalty. I’ve never been lax about this, but I’ve also never been totally locked down. I know I’m out there, Alan bti, if you do Google, if I ego surf and look for Alan bti, they’d be like Allen Bti posted to this library site and he was on Jeopardy and he’s in Mensa, and you can immediately put together a little footprint for me.

You know what I mean? . So I went and read all kinds of articles about VPNs from places that I think do good research. The C Nets, the Forbes Tom’s Hardware, where they’re, they have their hobbyist and up, or they’re professional and they’re trying to give you, like Zif Davis had runs my multiple magazines, like PC Mag and stuff like that, and they do these kinds of reviews all the time.

What’s the best hard drive to buy for the money? And all that kind of stuff. And then I, as I read the reviews, I’m looking for , a lot of what they emphasized here is exactly what I would emphasize, or they did it from a business context, and it doesn’t really matter to me as a consumer, a prosumer, if you will.

So I’m looking for where their criteria match, that’s their term. It’s not oh, I’m elevating myself. And so from multiple places then you get the idea of there’s a whole bunch of them that figure into the top five everywhere, so I’m probably gonna go with one of those guys.

And then my biggest criteria were I really wanted to lose the minimum amount of speed. And so in that case, it’s of funny, you wanna think that the internet is just in the cloud and it’s equal everywhere, but there still is a certain amount of Wire lengths co-location in more places around the United States.

The way a VPN works is that you attach to a server, it encrypts all your traffic so that your stuff is never in the open on the web. And if you have the only server available is in Thailand, then there’s a lag because you’re gonna go across the world back and forth. Some of them have 2000, 3000, 5,000, 10,000 servers all around the United States.

And so you use the one that’s physically closest to you. And if you know a little bit about how the backbone of the United States works, then you say where’s the nearest big point of presence? The biggest hub for various different carriers. And you’re like, I’d rather be in Washington, DC or LA or, you know what I mean?

Where you know that there’s a lot of traffic that in Arkansas, little Rock is just not gonna be, but there’s, it’s of funny, when you do internet speed tests, you can see that there really are some things that are illusionary. Like maybe actually Arkansas would be good because what’s there.

Walmart and they made sure that the state’s infrastructure was way upgraded so that they’d be able to have good corporate data. So having said that, express V P N was the one that seemed to be it, had they, they test for all different kinds of exposures, leaks it’s a kind of traffic that they can throw through it and see if there’s anything that, if they try to attack it and they have their own white hat hackers that do these things, was there any way that they were able to penetrate express?

V P N has a e s 2 56, the highest level of encryption that’s commercially available. And as we get more and more mighty computers quantum computing, pretty soon it’s gonna be a hack that used to take seven weeks to run. And so you can not worry about it now. It’s gonna take seven minutes and then they’ll just do.

Every single character stream in 256, every dictionary attack, right? Every they the, when I think of, I think I’ve mentioned this before, one of the ways that I generate passwords is not only randomly through the password thing, but I have song lyrics. They stay in my mind, and so I’ll type out like, the words to a certain lyric, and maybe not, don’t start with the first verse, but the second.

So it’ll be a little bit more obscure or capitalize certain letters, either the first or the second or randomly. And then you gotta remember what pattern you use. But anytime that you establish a standard and use a pattern, that’s exactly what the computer will say. He did one and two and three and four.

Do you know what I mean? You have to be like, it’s gotta be memorable to you as a human being, and yet not that the computer can say, gotcha, I figured you out .

Stephen: And that’s, and the important thing here is because things keep progressing you can’t, like you said, just get something, install it and be done.

You gotta update ’em. You got to work with them a little bit. It takes some work. And just because Express V P N is the number one right now, they may not update as much and may not keep up and something else will come in and take its place in a couple years. There’s a balance there too, cuz again, none of these are completely a hundred percent secure and gonna solve everything.

What popped into my mind real quick, sorry, my mind bounced. Remember the old movies when people would be cracking codes? It’d be like seven characters and they’d match individual characters. Oh, we got that one. Like it was a Wheel of Fortune Gamers. Something exactly that, that how

Alan: numbers falling down like Tetris.

It’s oh, you got it. Oh,

got,

Stephen: you got the third and fourth outta seven. Good for you. Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. But anyway, ,

Alan: another thing that gave me confidence in Express VPN was that they’ve been high rated for a long time, like decades. So they’ve survived all the attention that comes from being the top rated one, because then immediately people wanna say I’m the one that beat Express vbn, or whatever else it might be.

And in fact, I think that some of the other VPNs have had problems with that, that when Nord was really a big surf shark. I’m trying to think, others by name that I can start naming. It was, 13 year old hackers. Like the way he got his bones was to say I broke them. You know what I mean?

So it’s I’m, I am it is, I intend to just like you want to, you wanna do a review every once in a while of am I using the best browser? Am I using the best search engine? Am I using the best security? I gave myself that little tickler of, next year in the law after Christmas, I think I’ll review VPNs and see if this is still the one I want.

I got a year subscription, so I’m gonna learn it. And then there’s a certain amount, of course, like anything else, there’s a stickiness that comes from, it works just like I like and I know where it’s control panels are and I know what kind of alerts it puts out. And so it’s non-intrusive except when it needs to be cuz like, boo, you’re getting attacked.

That kinda thing. I will, it’s okay to have, I should check my auto insurance. I should check, there’s certain things that you don’t realize. Time works against you sometimes that you become fat, dumb, and happy and you really should do those reviews because there’s always new tech coming along and there’s always right that, that kind of like deterioration of old tech where they get set in their ways or something.

So for now, the only things that I’ve noticed, it’s not perfect. It does still have it interferes with certain installers and it, and certain malware. So I like malware Flighters, I like Mac, malware Bites and and Sofos. And it started to have okay, I’m having. Revalidate myself, like every time I log on, that didn’t used to happen.

So what’s happening? My traffic that it u itself uses to talk to its white list, update my, my, bad definitions and stuff like that. I got a feeling that’s getting block muddled, whatever. And I gotta think of how I’m gonna do that. Am I gonna turn my VPN n off at two in the morning, let these things do their updates and then turn back on at three?

Does it have a feature that lets me turn it on and off on a timed schedule? And then once I do that, it’s that’s hacker hour. That’s what all the hackers doing is at two in the morning. Cuz they know that’s how the updates happen, right? So I’m just trying to like it’s, and it’s not so much, it’s funny, I’ve been very much experimenting at home to see what it does, but the real test is gonna be, now I’m gonna have it, I have it on my laptop and I’m gonna be going to California just a couple days.

And I’m looking forward to seeing what’s it like in an airport? Does it send me alerts? Does it still run as fast as I want it to? What’s it like when I’m at my parents’ house? and I don’t have to worry about the I S P that they have and the router that they have and that they didn’t set a lot of this up, but I’ll still be safe there or in my hotel.

Right? And so this will be the, I guess the acid test, I’ll find out if I chose wisely or if it’s gonna be why I can’t live like this. I can’t, I’m. I’m fast enough in how I fled amongst various different, my email my Facebook, my spreadsheets, whatever I’m doing, I can’t have it be, that work becomes torturous because I’m safe.

Stephen: And that’s the problem with the VPNs, is they can, there’s a balance cuz you can make it super secure and tight, but then you can’t even get to google.com or or msn.com. It blocks everything. It blocks every picture, every video, every ad, every it is every link and you just can’t work and operate.

But then if you just turn it off, there, what’s the point? What’s the point? And exactly. Some, something, most of the people listening, I’m hoping understand this, but we, most of us use like a cable modem. Which modem doesn’t really fit, but that’s the term we use now. So we’ll just move on. . What they do then is they hook right into the cable modem via wifi or something like that.

And that is so dangerous because those companies Spectrum, we unfortunately have to use Spectrum here. And at and t’s another, what they do is they buy 5,000 of the same boxes from a company, and that company sets the username and password the exact same on all of those boxes. So all the hackers know, hey, this area is spectrum.

Everybody in this IP range is using this particular box, we can hack into it. That’s right. So if you hook directly up to your cable modem without any router or any other protection, you’re just wide open to the net and you’re screwed. Yeah. And so I have a router that is password protected that they have to get into the cable modem, into my router to get into my network.

And I’ve got security on that along with security on the computers. So that’s,

Alan: in fact, that’s not, often There’s certain things that were, I read early on about security that I adopted as my mantras. One of the things you wanna do is you don’t have a huge, big, tough wall, but then if they penetrate that they’re in and they have free run, you want it to be layered so that it degrades, elegantly.

They might be able to get in that first layer, but then you still have other things that will slow them down enough and kinda all the levels of deterrence, all the levels of safety. And so that’s kinda what I try to do too, is I same, I have, things on my router, things on my computer have want to make sure that if I’m gonna use my phone and my laptop out in the field, that can’t be how they get in.

You know what I mean? It’s funny. Long ago, I don’t think I’m telling stories outta school. I was director of databases for Progressive Insurance and we had a slammer attack. Slammer was a worm that got in through S SQL l database servers, and. It didn’t get in to Progressive, it got in because somebody was working on something at home.

They weren’t security tight enough, it got on their machine and all then they had to do was come into the progressive network where if you were in the building, if you passed physical security, they figured you were okay. They didn’t have the same and boom, it was lots of places. And it really is all so much of hacking nowadays is not only, Hey, I got a fast computer, I got a dictionary attack.

Let’s do that. It’s all the social engineering that says download this app. It’s gonna be able to give you, free flashlight activities. You know what I mean? That was like reviled as being, that’s in so many cases how bad apps got on your phone is because who doesn’t want a nice weather app?

Who doesn’t want a nice flashlight app? And that was their delivery system. . So I’m waiting to see if you know on anything how to say this. Competence in any particular platform is no guarantee of competence on every platform. And so here’s hoping, because I look for that as well. I not only run on Mac, but on iPhone and on Windows.

I wanted to make sure that all those big ones were covered. Is it covered for Linux? Is it covered? I, I don’t want it to be that, hey, my, my power grid got taken over because they’re running an old version of G eight or whatever, there’s like different operating systems that so we’ll see about, I don’t wanna see any suspicious things on my phone.

And I’m, I, it’s an experiment and I hope it’s not a foolish experiment, I’m pretty sure I picked a good one and after one another. One thing that seems to happen is, one, if not all these things try to make themselves sticky in terms of how useful they are. They also have things like, does it have a dins installer so that you can really get rid of it if you don’t want it anymore, instead of it being.

They keep prompting me to go from the home to the premium version. I thought I uninstalled it entirely. What the hell has it put on my machine? That it’s like still got a hook into me and I just read, if there’s any number of things, anything that works at the low level on your computer is a natural thing for the hackers to look at that, say if you are using a disc utility that’s gonna be doing directory cleanup or whatever else it might be, you’re already giving it permissions to do pretty serious disc stuff.

And all we gotta do is be able to hack not your operating system, but that utility and then we’re it

Stephen: Or offering some free utility. That’s some big tool that does stuff, but what it’s really doing is getting rid of all the competition and like you said, yeah.

Alan: You mentioned Ksky, but previous to that, Affy had, and I don’t know how much of this was ever proven, it had a reputation for both being a solution and a problem.

Yeah. By that meaning that it really did offer a whole bunch of different virus fighting type stuff. , but it sure seemed to also be that, like, where are things coming from , right? That were they creating things to create demand? Please don’t McAffee lawyers. I think it’s gone now. Or if it’s out there, it’s not run by paranoid Mr.

McCaffey, who would now, you know, oh, I saw you guys on a podcast and then I sued your buttocks off. don’t know. It was, there was enough, there were enough articles and enough evidence of ripple effects of where a new worm got found and it was like where did it come from? And then you that’s suspicious.

And 10 times suspicious is now there’s a pattern, maybe. And so just from, and it could all have been a social engineering campaign on the part of Cusper. To Defame Affy and say, don’t use that one. It’s suspicious. And I don’t know, Kaspersky, where is that out of? If it’s outta East Europe,

Stephen: It’s actually Russia, which I’ve kinda questioned it lately.

I’ve been like, maybe I should, it’s been a couple years. Maybe it’s time to look into something else. Honestly I’ve thought that I’m like, it’s worked really well, but is there something that would suit me a little better? Yeah.

Alan: And some part it’s just one of the big things that people use VPNs for is they now have things, for a long time.

Actual DVDs have been coded for regions one through seven, so you can’t play it everywhere that you go. There’s content that’s like that too. You can’t get to like off the top of my head, I don’t know if this is true, amazon.co.uk is not exactly the same. Selection and prices as amazon.com, which is the big United States one, and there are.

Other sites like Amazon has prime video, what’s on Prime video in England might not be what’s on Prime video here. And if you really can’t wait to see Dr. Who until the week after because it first premieres on B BBC and then comes here, then you use a V P N to look like you are from England instead of the United States.

And then you pass their address test, if you will. People use VPNs for that to spoof addresses because they sign into the server that says, I’m coming from the British version islands. And that’s actually where Express VPN is based out of. And so it’s they one of those non-tradition countries?

Am I like buying a Venezuelan evil vpn? N you know what I mean? So there’s, it’s the minute you go out of what you think is relatively civilized United States, there’s all kinds of places that have different ideas about intellectual property rights. That they’re more regularly hacked and they’re looking for a clown like me.

I think I’m being sneaky because my VPN came in so I could watch Dr. Hu and instead that now they got all my traffic for everywhere that I shop. Cause I tried using for Amazon as well. And I’m, I am awfulizing things. It doesn’t, I really don’t think that’s happening with this one. And yet I’m aware that there are things out there that are like, if it’s too good to be true it probably is not true

You know what I mean? It can’t be that you’re gonna get the access for the next 10 years to this V P n and don’t worry, they have just the interests of humanity at, there anyway. .

Stephen: Yep. Alright You mentioned music that was, we talked a bit last week and then you created a monster of a online Facebook topic.

I love when

Alan: this happens. I throw a whole bunch of stuff onto Facebook and sometimes it’s just, Hey, look, I, know, we went and I went for a walk. And some people who like walking will chime in. Once in a while you talk about interesting topics and you don’t get one or two or three replies.

You get like dozens and hundreds. And so I mentioned, Hey, I have some standard Christmas stuff that I like listen to. It’s kinda just like when you listen to a Christmas radio station, Colleen often complains about this. If you hear like the same 20, 30, 40 songs, like while you’re listening, while you’re driving, you hear the same song, come on.

That’s just really disheartening. There’s billions of Christmas songs. Why am I hearing Mariah Carey again? Et cetera,

Stephen: et cetera. And why not one of the other cover versions that people have done of that song. Exactly. Why is something a little different. Yeah.

Alan: Yeah. I was heartened while we were decorating our tree.

We had magic on, which has gone to all Christmas music. And that was one of the ones that, that Colleen was worried that we’d hear, here’s the same Manheim steam roller, here’s the same, for et cetera. We worked on the tree for hours and it, we didn’t seem to hear any repeats. And so I’m hoping that some radio stations have gotten the idea that actually turns people off, that it’s not, I don’t wanna hear my favorites again and again.

And I don’t know how I really stand about this because I am very much a non-pe. I like new all the time. Some people, and maybe they love it. They love hearing the hits, right? They love hearing their same secure things. Kids start off like that. The number of times that a kid can watch their favorite Disney video, would have me vomiting in the nearest rest.

Yes. Yes. I just, I

Stephen: thought, let jump on a slight tangent and we’ll come back to Christmas. Felix, this is related. So Spotify first of all, Spotify’s great because you can look up, like I looked up jazz Christmas and I found some jazz Christmas albums that I’ve never heard. I looked up big band Christmas and, so you can do that and get that variety.

But I listen I buy and have almost everything I want ever listen to. If I like a group, I like an album, I buy it, right? And. Spotify does their year end wrapped every year. I don’t know if you’ve seen that, where they, I have not. They keep track of all this data and then they give you this thing of here’s the artists you listen to, here’s your most popular songs, here’s how many minutes, here’s, this, that, and the other thing.

So I got mine and I think it was like 2,400 minutes for the whole year. But again, right now, listen. Four, seven, yeah. Ok. Yeah. Now I’ve got a playlist right here of Christmas music, but it’s all stuff I own. It’s all my CDs that I’ve, put on MB three and so I’m not even on Spotify most of the time.

My son, on the other hand, , he got his wrapped for the end of the. He listened to something like 220,000 minutes of music. That’s 100 times as much. Yeah. Wow. Yeah. 51 straight days. Like it was a, he’s in the top 0.005% of all Spotify listeners. We took the main, the biggest artist he listened to and Yeah.

Found out how much they pay average artists, and we figured up and I, so they paid. That artist more than double what we paid in fees to Spotify . So from my son, a couple artists made more money than they would’ve from other people or from him buying CDs. So he’s that’s my claim to fame, there we go.

Alan: You know what? I’m happy to hear anything about how some artist made money on Spotify, because the story you often hear is they’re getting micropayments. Yeah. And they’re things that are really hits. They’re making nowhere near as much as the old way of release the cd, publicize it, get it into a hundred thousand people’s hands or millions or whatever else it might be.

And nowadays, I, from what I understand, so many of the streaming services artists have to go on tour cuz that’s how they make money nowadays. And I, the numbers support that despite Alan being the wonderful outlier,

Stephen: the statistical per perversion that he’s

Alan: Yes. Yeah. With many other places.

It just is, it’s giving it away for free and you hope that it’s enough of a lost leader that will inspire people to say, come see me when you’re in your town. You know what

Stephen: I mean? It almost makes me wanna, at night when I, I’m done working and stuff, it makes me wanna turn on my favorite artist on Spotify and go to bed , just let it run all night.

someone just mentioned that

Alan: they do that, that for friends that have released stuff at, small press stuff, if you will, they kinda have a way of requesting it again and again and again. So that it builds their placement on the charts. It makes more micro payments to that person, even when they’re not really listening.

And so there’s no system, there’s no game that you won’t within two minutes have someone thinking, how can I game that system? Yeah. How can I, yep. Okay so can. I’d rather that individuals doing it than there’s a big combine in Yes. Bulgaria, that is forcing Eurovision song contest winners down the throat to the public.

By doing

Stephen: that kinda , didn’t MMS get in trouble for that clear back in the seventies or something? There was some contest, the biggest radio station in America and they stuffed the ballot box to win. And it gave ’em a bad rep. Yeah.

Alan: Yeah. That, it’s funny that being in Cleveland before I was here, but that happened in Chicago too, that you was like, when you hear certain ones are winning the most popular thing, it’s I don’t know anybody that listens to that amongst my friends.

Oh, because they had the leg of people that sent in. Exactly. Postcards. I love you guys. Okay. Yeah.

Stephen: . So what’s some new Christmas music that you’ve actually listened to that you’re like, oh, I’m glad I just, someone told me about

Alan: this. It’s funny. I, so I, Got a whole bunch just yesterday, like 10 CDs.

Wow. And I, everything. And so I straight no chaser, really good, all acapella and yeah, this is they might have more than one. And I think I now got two of their three, if I remember correctly. And they’re beautiful. Sometimes people are just so talented. Their voices are so pure. The music is so beautiful.

It’s like ethereal, and they’re very playful. You can do things with human voices that you can’t do with instruments. And so I, that’s immediately I’m gonna hear that again. Stroke rate, no Chaser is one of the recommendations. I got a bunch of Frank Sinatra ooh.

And like old crooners if you will. I got the Rat Pack Christmas. So it’s Frank and Dino and Sammy Davis Jr. And I think those are the main three. And they’re very stripped down. I’m I like complex music. And man, I’m steamroll. I’m all about that cuz there’s a lot going on. But it’s really cool to hear a beautiful voice sing Silent Night and just it being again, floaty and perfect.

And then and I will say this more evidence of, people are just things are falling apart a little bit on the edges. The center cannot hold. I got a Christmas Santa Frank Sinatra Christmas album that had instead Frank Sinatra duets. . Wow. And so it’s I’m gonna return that cause I really want the Christmas one.

But it’s did you not, I guess they really don’t. Did you make sure that the CD was in the right box and stuff like that? . The box was what I wanted the CD case, not that thing. I got Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers doing a whole bunch of Christmas duets, and it’s funny. His voice is very smooth and hers is very perky, but they combine ’em together in nice wets.

And that’s

Stephen: from like the early eighties or something, isn’t it? That Yeah. Some These are

Alan: really old. Yeah. In fact, I was pleased. One of the reasons I was able to buy so many was that instead of being, Hey, what’s Michael Bules? I got his older one, so it’s seven bucks instead of the current one, which is 15.

And in fact one, a couple of the recommendations that people made were like, I, and I asked this for this specif. One of the things that you had growing up that you still listen to now, because it just means so much. It’s your family Christmas album. People made a couple of recommendations that they’re not even available on CD or if they are, it’s like 35, 50 bucks.

Right now they’re scarce collector’s item type stuff, but you can get some of them streaming wise and So I did that for a couple. Let’s see and actually I haven’t gotten it yet, but when you mentioned the Simion Corral, right? Harry Simeone? Yep. I haven’t listened to that one yet, but I got that one.

Somebody recommended the Charlie Brown Christmas album and why can’t I think of his name? Vince Gar Aldi. Thank you very much. And actually I didn’t get that. I already had that one because I always wanted to be able to play Linus and Lucy. I just wanted to be able to play that whenever I wanted to, yeah. Yep.

Stephen: Let’s see. I know a bass I don’t know him, but there’s a Bass Stuart Ham that plays that two-handed on bass. He plays the bass part and then he plays the Yeah. Very talented.

Alan: Yeah. And again, a quick digression. So we went to see the Carl Palmer Band doing Emerson Lincoln Palmer music.

It’s the 50th anniversary of welcome back to My Friends Coming Out. Welcome back, my friends to the show that never ends. I got all excited and they, he has a great guitarist who can play Keith Emerson’s keyboard parts on guitar. Wow. Which what who in the world can do that? But he also has a great bassist and Chapman stick player and with his Paul Bautovich.

And this is Simon Kirk. Kirk Fitzpatrick. And he played the Chapman stick, take a pebble from e l p playing all the parts, the bass and the keyboard and the g and so you can do a lot nowadays with tap guitars and Chapman sticks and stuff like that, that you can play the entire song by yourself, if you will.

And he did it beautifully. Wow. Let’s see I got I already had some Brian sets. Cause I really like Rock Abel. Yeah. And that he has we, like we talked about this last time, he has Boogie Woogie Christmas. He has Santa’s got a hot rod, he’s got a good

Stephen: one.

The one song he does, I didn’t have yet. the old Louie Armstrong that you, Santa Claus. He does that one. And my daughter, when she was younger, used to giggle at that song so much Brian Setzer version. We’d listen to it like in rotation all the time and she would giggle at it. So yeah. Does that use Santa Claus

Alan: I still love the Springstein version of Santa Claus’s coming to town that he did in concert. And I think I, I don’t think we ever made an album. It’s the live version, but that’s also got that great. Stacks from Clarence Clemons. What I mean, it’s really got soul to it. It’s a great

Stephen: song. The best part is cuz it’s live.

Bruce starts laughing, you can hear him and it just makes it so special. And it’s got that, and we talk about this with music, that you can hit the notes. That doesn’t mean that there’s any energy and soul to it and it could suck, but that alone gives that whole song some energy. And they’re laughing and I love that they’re

Alan: having a good time on stage.

They’re playing off each other, they’re loving, giving this to the crowd. Yes. You know what I mean? I

Stephen: love that kind of stuff. Yeah. And I say that cuz Def Leppard, right after the pandemic started, they came out with a Christmas song. And I’m like, oh, this’ll be fun and nice. I listened to, I said, eh it’s an okay song, but it’s of soulless.

It’s, there’s no blood to it, yeah.

Alan: Yeah. It’s, I regularly throw in I, cause I have a lot of ’em, I have of course Manheims team Marlor, I have Trans Siberian Orchestra. We went to see first night. Last year, and I think it would’ve been they were there again, but it was like right the day after Christmas and we were unavailable.

And actually I liked it a lot more than Colleen. So I don’t know that we’re gonna repeat the cover band version of T sso. If we go see him, we’ll go see t s O. Yeah.

Stephen: Yeah. I I, the first year I saw First Snow, I was like, wow, this is really good. It was great. And then last year, me, you, Colleen, we were looking at each other is it me or is there something off about this?

It just is not doing, it wasn’t as

Alan: good as I wanted it to be. Yeah. We and again, jumping around, we went to see the guess who. And every indication from everything that I could see on Ticketmaster in other places was that it was the, guess who it was Burton Cummings on vocals, and it was Randy Bachman maybe.

And instead it was like, the drummer now owns the name to the band and he had a Soundalike guy, but nobody really sounds like Burton Cummings. You know what I mean? Yeah. So I heard the songs I wanted to hear. I heard Clap for the Wolf man. I heard, anyway, Colleen, because she really loves them, was really unhappy with the bait and switch that we felt.

We got that. I hadn’t built it up totally, but I really was like, I’ve never seen, actually here’s the goaling part. We stumbled onto Guess Who, when they were at like a Taste of Cleveland. Then we just, we went to that or what Rib Faster, whatever it was. And they were one of the bands that night.

And it. I would’ve paid money to see these guys Instead, I paid five bucks for the I want to eat ticket. And then we gotta see the guess who, how cool was that? Yeah. And then because we had seen them, this was such a letdown, . Oh.

Stephen: You know what I mean? So now lock three in Akron every year on Friday nights at summer, they do a lot of tribute bands that come in, like for all the big major tribute bands in the country.

They get, and they’ve had Queen and Aerosmith and Metallica and Bonjovi and just, that’s great

Alan: music. Summertime music.

Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s all free at the amphitheater at L three. So that’s, even if it does suck, you can just get up and leave. You didn’t hear the ticket, but, honestly, some of these bands are so good and they go through the eras of that.

They’re whoever. Some of these bands are around for 50 years. Yeah.

Alan: It’s awesome. The original band isn’t doing it anymore. They do things that they can’t, they can’t hit the notes or they aren’t, that’s not part of their set list anymore.

Stephen: Yeah. It’s always

Alan: a good time.

It’s kinda funny. I think I’ve got a prod progressive rock. Most of the time when I’ve been out in California, I’ve been very purposeful as visit mom. It’s work on the house, et cetera, et cetera. We’re getting to an interesting place of the house got all refurbished. It’s now on the market. So my job is to get the last things outta the house, but it’s nowhere near the boxing up and cleaning up and everything that I had been doing previous, I might have to mow the lawn, that kind of thing.

Found out that a band, prag eject is gonna be playing Friday night in Escondido right near where I’m staying.

Stephen: I lived in Escondido, that’s where I used to live. Did you? I didn’t.

Alan: So it’s, it’s right in on 78. Yeah. Right there. And it, they’re a tribute band, but they’re not like aspiring musicians.

They are Michael Sadler, the voice from Saga and Rio a why Can’t Think Rio, maybe it’s Akimoto from Spark Beard, they. Guys that play this music chops the organizer is Jonathan Mover, who was like the original drummer for Meridian. These guys really got it going on, and we had seen them one time at the Kent State ette stage.

Oh, wow. And loved them because they’re not just doing only a single band’s recreation, they’re picking amongst all of Prague and saying, why don’t we do hard as the sunrise by yes. Please do that song . Yeah. Yeah. Why don’t we do and Best of Queen, the best of E L P and Genesis and Yes. And Kansas.

Oh my God. So I get a chance to, that’ll be my little Christmas. That sounds cool. And it was more like, while I’m out there, I’m always like what are the Met events going on? And maybe I’ll be able to go to trivia night and stuff. My schedule has almost always not coincided with when their monthly gathering is or anything like that.

So this really is a nice thing. And then I also found out that a comedian that I like Carolyn Ria, is gonna be at a comedy club nearby there on Saturday night. Wow. So I haven’t had any number of times when I’m like, reading and relaxing in my room what’s on tv, occasionally I think I, I keep threatening to go see a movie out there and I think I’ve done it once in 11 months, but I actually have like social activity while I’m out there.

It’ll be trench coat, it’ll be me alone, but it’s still, I’m just, I don’t know. That’s cool. It’s very nice to be able to put things into your holiday season that are like, I really like this. I think what I’m gonna do is, again, like the venue that I’m going to is also right near the Pan-Asian buffet, so I’m gonna go with.

Glut myself on good sushi, then I’m gonna go sit in the back and enjoy Prague, rock and beach myself. Yes. Play for me . I’m just so happy All my senses .

Stephen: But I love that because, cause we’ve talked about this so often, how enjoying life and getting those experiences just add so much. And some of these people are like another day, another dollar, same old.

Yeah. Come on. You don’t have to do that if

Alan: you just do. I’ve noticed, I think, I, Facebook often throws ideas for events at me and I notice that you do the same as I, you put interested in a whole bunch of different things. So you just have a little tickler for, yes, maybe I will go to that tree lighting, maybe I will go to that wine tasting or whatever else it might be.

And another thing that’s wonderful about tribute bands is last time Genesis was in Columbus, it was like, I’m gonna drive to Columbus. I’m gonna pay 150 bucks a ticket. It was just too much for me. Yeah. I love Genesis. And I was like, boy, this, it just doesn’t sit well with me, even though it might be their last tour.

Project was like 22 bucks, carol Maria’s gonna be 17. That those, it’s not nothing, it’s not free, like the lock three cool things you talked about. But that is, I got a 20 in my pocket. Yeah. I

Stephen: can go see this thing for 20 bucks. That just seems

Alan: the impulse by, and no doubt if I

Stephen: want to see it, I can do it.

And the really best ones do everything they can to sound and look just like who they’re doing the tribute for. So it’s not just a band up there covering songs badly, it sounds No for note. The the way I know I saw a Rolling Stone cover band, and this guy had Mick Jagger down. You could Rooster Struts.

Oh yeah. It was like funny. Ok. Through the years too. He acted different and wore different outfits from the sixties than when they got up to the eighties, nineties. He dressed different and he acted a little different. And I’m like, that guy is really, knows his job. He’s professional, yeah. Yeah. And talking about the things, oh, I’m sorry. Talking about the things going out. So I don’t know if you have this on your radar to check out every now and then. Over in Warren is the WD Packard Music Hall. Now, this was actually given a donation over a hundred years ago by WD Packard, the car magnet.

You know that, okay? He had lots of money. Instead of just. Hoarding his money, he donated a trust fund back to the Warren to create this music hall and have free music for the community. And it’s been over a hundred years that they still offer this music. And we go to it a lot on the 4th of July.

They do wonderful concert and then fireworks and they do several concerts throughout the year. They just had their Christmas spectacular and it was free. And I was looking around like, why is this place not packed? This is an, it was an hour and a half of Christmas music and they had. Mrs. Claus there singing, they had local bands.

The drum line of one of the local bands was there. They had the dance studios dancing the kids with the, not just the community thing. Everyone. Yeah, that’s very, it wasn’t just a, the dance studio didn’t just have a prerecorded thing that they danced to. Like my daughter had, they had an orchestra playing Christmas music that they were dancing to, and it was awesome.

And I’m like, why? And you get parents that are like, oh yeah, the spirit of Christmas is gone. Take your kids out to the damn thing. Come on. I was like irritated. But the music itself was fantastic. They’re a professional band. They are not hacks. It is not a small little quartet. It is a full orchestra playing professional music at that level.

And it was just fantastic all the way through. They’re on my radar

Alan: And I don’t, they, I’ve in town 20 years, 22 years now with Colleen and they haven’t been on my radar, so I didn’t know about them, but something I must have seen who’s coming there, like Steve Hackett or Tom Petty cover band or some really good

Stephen: stuff.

It’s I think Morris has been there. Yeah.

Alan: So just that I’m hoping that my now being more aware of them, Part of I, my talk at the end of this month is gonna be about drinking from the via hose, like I mentioned, given option Glu some part of it’s just the overhead of keeping track of everything.

So it isn’t only that I look for things going on in Cleveland. If something’s really good, we’re willing to drive to Detroit, to Pittsburgh, to Columbus, to Warren , and it’s cool that some, like George Thurgood just doesn’t come to Cleveland, but he comes to the Northfield Casino, right?

So you kinda have to have a whole bunch of ticklers out there that I regularly read what’s coming up a Playhouse Square, what’s coming up at all these various different concert venues. And then I hope that I will notice in time to buy good tickets when I see, oh, Kansas is not coming into town, but they’re gonna be in Pittsburgh.

Let’s go see Kansas there and stuff like that. So we have I, I think I mentioned we have straight No chaser coming up just tonight. Nice. As a matter of fact, we’re gonna see them live doing their Christmas music and then our New Year’s Eve plans this year are to go see the Cleveland Orchestra.

Do James Bond music at seven? Yes. Acoustically perfect place. I don’t know, maybe we’ll dress up. We, because it’s New Year’s Eve, but the, it really isn’t about going there and being snooty. It’s about how cool is it gonna be to have a cool New Year’s eve of this great music and the orchestra’s gonna hopefully the orchestras gonna be not this, they’re gonna be enjoying themselves.

Everybody loves.

Stephen: That’s cool. Yeah. That’s very cool. So I think, oh man, there’s so many things that go on. Like you said I hit interest and my cousin’s oh, you’re going to the Snoopy painting. I’m like, what’s Snoopy painting? You marked it. I’m like, hold on. I go through Facebook and I just hit interested so I can see this stuff.

And then, but if I say I’m interested in a music thing, they gimme more music things. If I’m interested in a paint night, I’m, they get more paint night stuff. If I like peanuts, I get more peanut stuff. So it doesn’t mean I’m going to it necessarily. Oh and they got upset about it. I’m like, oh dude, , I’m just using the type of stuff,

Alan: we’ve had a couple times where things I had put, Hey, I’m interested. It was like three on the same night and we had to choose one and we actually kinda left it till the end. So that, was just, what do you feel like doing? It wasn’t right. Where I was so worried about getting tickets.

Or getting good tickets. There really could be. We’re just gonna show up and take whatever they have. And we’ve had great success of doing that once in a while. Most of the time I really like to get, I care about having good seats. I care about being in the center so the acoustics are good and being, I don’t know, close, but within reasonable pricing.

When a show ticket ranges from like 20 to 150, I don’t mind paying the 20 and being way in the back cause I’m in the place. But then you, what I get is six more concerts, , seven more concerts for 20 bucks Instead of paying one for one 50. So I guess I, it’s I don’t think that’s being cheap.

I think that’s being like, is it really that different seven times better to be closer at 150? Yeah, I agree. I’m okay with, it matters to me only in places where I know enough of the venues now. I can’t see things at the state theater without eating my knees that the rows of seats are too close together.

So I have to make sure that I get aisles so I can angle my legs out or else I’m uncomfortable for two hours. And have

Stephen: what’s the point? Yeah. Yeah. Real quick, last weekend we went down to Sugar Creek which has the world’s largest cuckoo clock.

Alan: Wow. We’ve been there. I kid you not, we weren’t.

I saw you went they had a whole lighting ceremony and everything. We were just there to see the clock and there was this one store that was like, went back yards and yards full of. Art stuff, Christmas stuff,

Stephen: et cetera, et cetera. Was that the really cool one with the really great displays of all the little statues everywhere?

Alan: It must have been, because that’s what lured us in was like, yeah, this place looks like it has things I’ve never seen before. Let’s go see what

Stephen: they have. Yep. , we went through the museum that talked about the Amish and the Swiss that came to the area and all of that. It was a really good time. My cousin was down there, we enjoyed those types of things, but I was having to, like you said, choose, because Kent up in Kent, they were supposed to be doing their light up ceremonies, and I’m like I could go to that by myself or go here where family is.

But luckily, and I say luckily sarcastically the old flower mill at Kent, that’s a national landmark caught fire on Friday night. They shut that down. No, they did not do it. They’re doing it this Saturday instead. So I’m like, whoa. The bright lining is I can do both selfishly, the thing burnt down and whatever, but so there’s one up in chagrin Falls, I think in the morning they’re doing a serum, a light up and little activities and then going to Kent State. So it’s two of ’em I’m going to this weekend, but there, there’s just so many of these around. We went to Camfield Fairgrounds, such a great light display.

Everyone talks about Ogilby going down to West Virginia, Ogilby the lights and

Alan: stuff. We’ve done that twice now. Yeah. And it was worth the drive the first time and the second time it was like now we’ve seen it and it’s not enough different each year. We’re not doing this again. Yeah, it’s

Stephen: that’s what I, I told my mom because I took the kids and it was.

Like 50 bucks a car or something, or 25 bucks a person, something like that. It was like, oh my God. Okay. Gotta do it. Exactly. Yeah. But I can go to Canfield and drive through the lights. I can go to Alliance and drive through the lights and there’s four or five places. I’m like, yeah, I’ll spend the same as Ogilby.

It’s a lot closer and I see pretty much the same stuff, so

Alan: We usually go to Neola Park. There’s a couple places. Yes. There’s one, there’s a courthouse and I’m trying to think what country what city it’s in, what county? A county courthouse that is supposed to be just like all the way around.

Lit up. And

Stephen: Is that down in

Alan: Cambridge? Might be, because we were down in Marietta and we were gonna drive up, and then it just was pouring rain. It’s like we’re gonna see it from the car. I wanted to get out and walk around it and join the carolers. No, we’ll get trenched. We couldn’t do

Stephen: it. It might be Cambridge.

I did take the kids down to there. They do a, like Dickens Christmas. They have everything decorated Victorian and they have people in Victorian dress. And it’s another thing where, it’s a little town. They do a little display and all the shops are open with Christmas stuff, but everyone’s Victorian arrow so that was, that’s on our list.

Yeah.

Alan: So it’s kinda funny. I, by being out in California, eight to 14, I’m giving up that block of time. But once I’m back from 15 to 25, Colleen and I are gonna be there’s specific streets here in, in near us. Let’s see, maybe it’s not West Lake, probably Fairview Park that like three streets in a row have, every house is all decorated up in Chicago.

They used to do that on Santa Street and candy cane lanes. They actually put little signs up here. It’s, I always try to remember it like, it’s Cadbury Waterbury, it’s a, I remember the street name. It eventually, but just it takes 20 minutes to get there. 20 minutes to go through it. And it really is just, wow, this is so cool.

And once in a while it’s like house, house. Beautiful. And here’s the dark Grinch house. Really in the middle of all this, you just couldn’t like, put some lights up. Anyway, .

Stephen: What, what’s what’s that meme that the, that he showed the one house, it’s all lit up like Clark Griswold and the house next to it says Yeah.

The same thing as him or something like that. Exactly. Yeah. , or the better one I saw was this guy had his house all lit up. The neighbor just put a Grinch statue with a string of lights coming from the neighbor’s house to the Grinch, like the Grinch was dealing with it. It’s okay. That’s smart.

That’s very funny.

Alan: Yeah. Oh, like that. They almost have a, an article like in Cleveland scene or something like that, where they say, here’s the neighborhood houses that it might be worth a drive to. And we try to hit two or three four of those. Because some people really, they have a hundred thousand lights up on their.

Like really? Yeah. It looks like you could land a plane on the amount of this house is putting

Stephen: out. can Google and find a mapped loops of some of these neighborhoods with the lights to hit. Okay. And it, it integrates with Google g p s, so you can send it right to your phone then and they’re like all over the place.

So you can find them that way. Yeah. That’s that.

Alan: I, some part of what I like, I don’t know. We don’t, I think that there’s fewer things, like we love going out maybe on Christmas Eve where all of our stuff is done. We’ve got our food ready for Christmas day, we got our gifts wrapped, whatever else it might be.

And maybe it’ll be to drop gifts off with friends. Maybe it’ll be just to go out and I’m go to the lakefront or, we don’t even know what we want to do, but it’s, if the weather is reasonable, it’s just so nice to be like, look at how nice our street is. Right next door, we ivonne, Lakeland, and Arthur is the next one over.

They do Luminar. They do this thing where they put like a candle in a bag and up and down the street, and it does look like landing lights for Santa, but it’s, you’re walking along and the crunch of snow under your boots

Stephen: it’s beautiful. So right there, that neighborhood was featured in a Christmas movie called The Christmas Heart.

If you have not seen it, it’s based on a true story and it was that neighborhood. If you have not seen it, see it, it’s well worth watching. Basically this family their youngest or whatever needs a new heart and Okay, just as one comes available in Detroit a snowstorm hits and they can’t get heart and time.

And what you just said about the landing lights with those lumins, that’s exactly, that’s what happened. Yes. If you have not seen the Christmas heart, I think it was a Hallmark or one of those, but it’s actually one of the better ones, I would say. Okay. And it’s using a Cleveland neighborhood, true life based story.

So yeah. Watch that one.

Alan: It’s funny. I don’t know that we have anything that we make a point of watching each year, except maybe for the Grinch, maybe Charlie Brown Christmas, and nowadays they’re not on on C Bs where you have to see it the one time they seem to have ’em on various different places.

You can catch it on Hulu or whatever

else

Stephen: it might be, or do like I did and buy the Blu-Rays and own ’em and

Alan: own them. And then you can throw it in whenever you want. That’s, that would be the smart way to go. Exactly. So we I, we like, is it Love Actually that’s

a

Stephen: Christmas movie. Yeah. Oh God, yes.

Alan: Story.

That’s heartwarming enough. You know what I mean? Yeah. I like enough people in it and it’s sweet to see Love Blossom for the holidays, it’s actually I just read that someone said a really good combination. Watch Love actually, and then watch Die Hard cuz then you can see Alan Rickman getting his just desserts for hurting Emma Thompson that way.

Oh my God, that’s so

Stephen: funny. I love that. , I’m not, remember that, that’s pretty good. There we go. .

Alan: I get to finally to get my Tooth. That’ll be my Christmas gift. There’s a song

Stephen: about that .

Alan: It’s weird. This is so much, I don’t have phantom limb syndrome. I don’t, I’m not missing something that has really affected my life and yet it’s been weird to feel incomplete for a year and a half.

You know what I mean? Especially when I had, it’s noticeable when I smile, I usually smile big and occasionally he gets, people do that little look down where they go from your eyes to your mouth. It’s I don’t want ’em to think I’m a hillbilly . I don’t wanna . You know what I mean? And yet what can I do?

Yeah, it takes when you get. Since I was 16 when I had that tumor, I knew something was gonna have to be done. And I guess I made it, let’s see, 47 more years before finally I had to have, rebuild the bone, put in the implant, get now I’m gonna, the, they’re gonna put the permanent thing in there and then I get my little tooth and, but it’s just, I don’t know how it works psychologically, but I feel much more for the people that they really did ever lose something, even more than I have. This really will be fixed. What if you, yeah, I don’t know. People are talking about losing senses from Covid or something like that. I just can’t imagine. I can’t taste anymore. I can’t hear hear anymore taste I could do without, it would actually probably help me to not be 280 pounds.

It, can you imagine not all the music that we just talked about to be like, I can’t imagine it. I just, that would be such a loss. Such a terrible, oh so here’s the good luck for Christmas that we don’t go through any of that and that We’ll see. We’ll see. Yep. Okay. All right ma’am. Thanks. See you in a week and see you in a week.

Have a good one. Okay. Take care.

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