We Are Fine

Just to let people from around the country and the world know, we are fine. Our area had some places that were hit hard but our immediate neighborhood and our house were never in any danger. Within a half a mile or so there were some road closures as creeks overflowed onto roadways but it was not too bad for us. People in Charleston and Columbia had it much worse than us, and Little River to our north had 20 inches of rain in the worst day, washing away some road beds.

I appreciate the concern people have, but we are fine and always were. For us it was a minor inconvenience. I feel for the people for whom this was total devastation.

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Myrtle Beach Geekout

MB Geek Out, Dec 11 2009

Here in the Myrtle Beach area (aka the Grand Strand), we’ve been trying to crystallize a geek community for years. This started with the Grand Strand bloggers get-togethers. The first one had four attendees – myself, Andre Pope, Chris Yale and Roger Yale. We had several more meetings like that over the next year past that time. Some of this was taken online with the group blog at the Grand Strand Blogroll, and a lot of the same community helped put together the CREATE South conference.

There’s a new iteration of this energy, and that’s the MB Geek Out. As evidence of how much farther this iteration has gone than the earlier similar passes, just look at how this came together. Paul Reynolds mentioned having some kind of a nerd gathering on his Twitter account. Someone else (Jerry Harrison) coined the term and a third person (Nicholas Mercer) registered the domain and set up the rocking MBGeekout.com website. As Paul told me at the meetup last week, “It wasn’t even that we have other people to delegate to: I didn’t have to delegate!”

I love this area and I’m glad to see us getting together and forming this community. Myrtle Beach is not known as a technological hot bed, so each of us tended to feel as if we were the only ones doing technical work, software development, etc in the area. The best part of community formation is letting each of us know we aren’t alone, which I consider a very fine reason to continue. Watch the MBgeekout.com site and/or follow @mbgeekout on Twitter for more information about when the next one is. Let the good times roll!

Possibly the Last Sushi Beach Lunch of the Year

Possibly the last of the grocery store sushi beach lunches to... on Twitpic

Today might well be the last day that weather permits my standard “sit on the beach and eat mediocre grocery store sushi” type lunch. So I did it. I love fall in Myrtle Beach so much, it’s really the absolute best time of the year here. Instead of being 93 degrees on the beach, it is 78. Instead of being packed with tourists, it’s pretty wide open. Plus now you can park on the street on Ocean Boulevard. It’s clearly a win all the way around. Here’s hoping there are a few more wins this year but if not, I did it today. Carpe diem, y’all!

XCon the Myrtle Beach Comic Convention is Oct 2-4, 2009

In a few weekends, this coming October 2, 3 and 4 will be XCon in Myrtle Beach. This is the second year for this con. I was only able to attend for a few hours on the Friday last year but was surprised how much fun it was. I expect better things from this year. It will be held at the Springmaid Resort right on the beach.

I’ve been working on getting my collection filed and bagged and tamed anyway, so I’ll be bringing out some of my old issues with me. Long time comics creators like Joe Staton (E-man! Green Lantern!), Roy Thomas (JSA! Infinity Inc! Conan!) and Frank Brunner (Warp! Howard the Duck!) will be there, and I’ll be getting stuff signed. Newer talents like Ethan Van Sciver and Jonathan Hickman will also be there, and I’ll also be getting work signed by them. It’s just that the scotch tape on the comic bags won’t have disintegrated into goo. The best part of a smallish regional con in its early years is that you have an amazing amount of access to the creators. Several of these people were also at Heroes Con but I never was willing to stand in line long enough to talk to them and get an autograph. I guarantee it will be a lot easier here.

I still haven’t figured out my approach to the whole thing. I might be willing to get the VIP tickets and go to the Friday party and all. I’m sure I won’t be there every minute of all three days. The dog park is only a few blocks away so I might take a real life break to go meet my wife and dog there at some point. It’s actually harder to attend things like this in your own town. When I go to Heroes Con or Dragon*Con, I’m in a hotel away from home and don’t have my normal life to deal with. I’m in the room, a restaurant or the con which is generally an easy decision. When it is the same place where you live, you don’t generally get to shut off your real life and responsibilities for three days.

At both Heroes Con and Dragon*Con, I did a fair amount of digging through the 2/$1 and 3/$1 long boxes. If I’ve got all weekend to do some wishlist hunting, I might do it in smaller chunks. I found out at last year’s XCon that my old knees and back prevent me from hunching over boxes under tables for long stretches of time. I think my strategy will be to make multiple smaller purchases at more frequent intervals. That’s my favorite part of cons like this, looking for cheap back issues. Happiness is finding a book in the bargain bin that was already on your list.

I’d love to see this con be successful and continue to grow because I like having it right here, easily accessible and right by the beach. If you are a comic book fan within driving distance, come and check it out. It will be a good time.

Myrtle Beach VMWare User Group Meeting August 6

On Thursday August 6th, there will be the inaugural meeting of the Myrtle Beach VMWare User Group. It will be from noon to 2 PM and will be held at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach. I’m considering taking a long lunch and going to it. It is (arguably) relevant to my day job and I am a VMWare user of Fusion on my MacBook. There will at the very least be free food, there will be some value to me personally and professionally but most of all, I want to encourage there existing things like this in Myrtle Beach. I don’t want people to get the idea that it is useless to hold technical meetings in this area. I’m on the fence now but I’m tilting towards going.

Bigger (Revenue) Than Jesus

This weekend is when the sales tax in the city of Myrtle Beach is hiked to 11.5%. Those tax and spend Republicans are at it again. I thought I’ve been places with crazy high sales tax before but I’ve never seen it this high anywhere I can recall. I note that God himself is only asking for 10%.

This extra 1% is to pursue marketing campaigns to replace the tourists that the city has spent the last year running off, and they are doing it by making everything a tourist might buy in the city more expensive in a time when people are already hurting for cash. Nice thinking, y’all. Maybe then you can increase that another couple percentage points so you can run an advertising campaing to convince people that 14% sales tax isn’t really that high.

My Lunch Hour – 6/18/2009


My Lunch Hour – 6/18/2009
Originally uploaded by evilgenius

There is something truly truly wonderful about living and working in a place where going to the beach is such a simple operation that I can do it for 20 minutes at lunch time and that’s reasonable. This is a view of today’s lunch. I grew up in Nebraska and Kansas where the best we had for aquatic recreation was a reservoir dug out of the dirt by the Army Corp of Engineers, the same body of water that fed the irrigation system for the surrounding crop land.

Myrtle Beach and surrounding areas have a lot of problems, the city government’s current “war on tourism” not the least of them, but it sure does make me happy to have this available to me. Nothing like returning to your desk with salt water and traces of sand on your feet.

CREATE South Donation Day

One of the things keeping me busy lately is helping to organize the CREATE South conference. It will be held April 25 2009 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The mission statement of the conference is to educate and excite people about the intersection of new media and creativity. If there are aspects of new media, of writing, community online or artistic endeavors that you want to learn more about or to help others with, this day is for you. Bring the family, drop them off at the beach and come participate in the conference all day! It’s really a big win all around. This is a vacation spot, you know.

Today we are working on a full court press in the social media mindshare space, as I have already posted on the conference blog and the Grand Strand Blogger site. If you can take a few minutes and spare a few of your hard earned dollars in these tight times, please go to the site and donate. The button is in the sidebar of every page. If you are interested in coming and participating with us, please go to the site and register. Registration itself is free and there is no obligation to donate if you can’t swing it. If you are in traveling distance and would like to learn, teach and participate then please do register and spend the day with us.

Finally, if you are the tiniest bit sympathetic to our cause, please help spread the word. Please post about our conference on Twitter, on Facebook, on FriendFeed, on some social media thing I haven’t hear about yet because I’m too old and uncool. Please blog about it, tell your friends, drop an email to anyone you know in the area. We had a great first year last year and we’re hoping for even better things this year. What makes these days special is the enthusiasm and passion people bring to the room. Please help bring some of that and help those who have it to know about our conference so they can show up and rock our world. Thank you, intarweb social people.

Goodbye Hanna

In a weird twist for hurricane season, the path of Hanna became ever more direct to our town but at the same time it weakened. It hit us pretty close to square on but had less impact than some of the ordinary storms this summer. When I walked the dog this morning I didn’t even see that much debris around. Back in June we had a storm that knocked down limbs all over town, including one that punched a hole in our shed and ripped the cable out of the house. This was nowhere near even that.

Thanks for all the good wishes everyone. This one was a pretty easy ride. May all the rest of them be too.

Hanna Tracking

I’m not liking this so much. That line of prediction for Tropical Storm/Hurricane Hanna is getting ever close to being right over our house. Let’s see if that can move offshore a little. This will be quite an exciting end to the week, at least in the Chinese curse sense of the word.

Update: It’s still on track to hit us square on but it looks like it won’t be a hurricane when it does, so I’m not really worried anymore. However I am dropping bricks about what Ike might be doing after it.

John Kelly’s Voxford on Hard Rock Park

I work about 3/4 of a mile from Hard Rock Park but I’ve never been there. However, this dude who lives in England has been and posted a review of it that I found via Largehearted Boy. He seemed to generally like it. It’s one of those things I feel like I should go to, but mostly the price structure has kept me away. As the prices for locals keep dropping, at some point it will cross my buy line and then I’ll go.

The idea seems, by being so worshipful of rock and roll, to be the exact opposite of rock. I tend to think of it like those anarchy symbol shirts that I seen kids buying from Hot Topic. The way you make your statement completely cuts the legs out from the meaning of it. The saving grace would be if the goal of Hard Rock Park is to celebrate modern day mainstream rock by presenting something overpriced and bloated, which I would actually like if that was their intention. Here in Myrtle Beach they constantly run TV commercials for the park with people behaving in superficially “rocking” douchebag behavior as a selling point. Yeah.

One of these days I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and try the place out. We’ll see how it holds up to my diminished expectations.

Lunches at the Beach


Lunch at the Beach

Some days I really just feel the need to get the hell out of the office at lunchtime. I really prefer if possible to work in a quick walk on the beach, so I tend to head towards the water. This means that often I’m lunching on Kings Highway or Ocean Boulevard. Often I grab a cup of coffee at the Starbucks on the corner of 21st and Ocean because then I get to park there for free (when there is a space) and then I can walk for a few minutes before heading back to work.

Another alternative is to go to the area by the pier at 2nd Avenue North because there is a big gravel lot to park in that doesn’t charge. I’m trying to pay extra attention to those areas when I can park for free. Since many times I’m at the beach for 15-30 minutes, I hate the electronic machines that require a minimum of the $1 for hour. The coin meters are OK since I can drop in a quarter or two if that’s all the time I’m staying.

I grew up land locked in Nebraska and Kansas and even at age 40, I still can’t get over the novelty of having a beach so readily available to me. Most of my co-workers aren’t as smitten as with the beach as I am. Many live near it (I live 15 miles away) and many others grew up near it. That’s why the beach walk trips are always me solo. When I walk alone, I prefer to be by myself.

PS – I’m beach lunching right now. Thank you SBUX for free parking AND free wifi! Enjoy the cash for that Americano.

Myrtle Beach’s War on Tourism

Myrtle Beach is not only looking at driving away the May bike weeks, but when a recent flap arose over an ad encouraging gay travelers people were quick to back away. I’m no tourism expert but it seems to me that in a down economy with crazily rising energy and travel costs, when airlines are cutting routes to the city, maybe just maybe you’d take what tourists you can get. Since both the Harley riders and gay couples tend to be more affluent than average, it might be a good idea to encourage both groups to come to town and bring their checkbooks. When you try to discourage specific groups from coming, the knock on effect is that you discourage everyone. Real life is not so fine grained, everything is connected, and when you try to prevent tourism of one type my bet is you’ll prevent tourism of all kinds. As a year round resident of the area who would prefer restaurants and businesses to be able to survive and serve me whenever I want them, I say bring on the gay bikers!

Samantha Brown in Myrtle Beach

I got a pair of emails from a publicist type who is working with the Travel Channel. Tomorrow night on the Samantha Brown program, they will be featuring Myrtle Beach. I got an email to my regular address here, and then the identical one for the contact address of Grand Strand Bloggers. I could be grumpy, or I could be happy that they consider blogger outreach important enough to pursue. They also have a blog for their TV show although there appears to be no Myrtle Beach related entries.

The episode airs tomorrow, July 10th at 10:30 PM EDT. If you are away from the Grand Strand and want to see what it is that I’m always talking about, check it out. If you find this interesting, you might want to check out the internet TV show that Warren and Marcia do all the time, Myrtle Beach TV. I do love this area and enjoy when it gets coverage like this.

Myrtle Beach’s War on Tourism

I’m reposting verbatim some text from commentor Dennis. I personally think the city government of Myrtle Beach has recently gone insane in their efforts to get rid of the bike weeks in May. Let’s see, during Black Bike Week one local resident shot another local resident, neither one of which were participating in the rally. I strongly believe that a lot of this is motivated by the fact that the killer was black and it was during the Atlantic Beach rally week. If a white guy shot a black kid during the Harley week, they wouldn’t be in such a hurry to commit civic financial suicide.

I’ve seen this happen before. If Myrtle Beach gets rid of the few hundred thousand bikers from May, they will also get rid of the extra trips from those people when they come back later with their families. Tourism isn’t surgical, it is viral. If you get people in for any reason and they like it, they keep coming back. If you send them away for any reason, they stay away. I like this area, I’m a local and I want businesses I frequent year around to stay in business so they are there in January when I need them. I suspect if the rallies magically disappear next year, there would be a chain reaction of business failures and a toilet bowl swirl in the local economy. There are certainly problems with the bike weeks but taxing the residents extra to make them go away is completely insane.

Now, here is the information from Dennis:

Bike Week Update….WE NEED YOUR HELP

Here is the schedule for the next city council meeting:

If you will be negatively affected by the attempts by the City and County to eliminate the Bike Weeks, we need you to attend a meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25th at Revolutions in Celebrity Square at Broadway at the Beach.

The next County Council Meeting is July 1 at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse in Conway.

The next City Council date is Tuesday, July 8. The workshop begins at 9:00 a.m. here at City Hall. The regular meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. at the Collins Law Enforcement Center.

If you are impacted in the least as a business, an employee, whatever it might be. We can’t afford to have government selectively decide what tourists are good and which ones are bad.

And, even if you aren’t impacted, the following statement appeared on-line at Myrtlebeachonline.com yesterday afternoon and should be very concerning. It is not in today’s print section of The Sun News.

Mr. Martino wants to decide which tourists come to town! And, I thought the 3 mills was to get rid of bikers, not to replace lost revenue. I would be worried that your taxes are going to go even higher!

Councilmembers said they hope to see a concerted effort among everyone who’s affected — hoteliers, merchants and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce — because they will all play their parts in replacing bike-rally visitors with other types of tourists.

“We’re going to have to displace them with the tourists we want,” Councilman Chuck Martino said at Tuesday’s workshop discussion. “Then when the bikers want to come, the hotel rooms are already full.

“But if we don’t replace them, I don’t think three mills is going to make up for the lost revenue.”

Bike Weeks

A year ago I posted about Myrtle Beach’s bike week, which quickly devolved in the comments to an interesting but orthogonal discussion of class and gated communities. This year was fairly uneventful. The Harley week seemed to be the mellowest one since I’ve lived in the area. For big portions of the week it would be possible on my daily commute to not realize the bike week was happening. Even hot spots like the area around Suck Bang Blow had a fraction of the traffic I was prepared for. I don’t know why this is, but if I had to hazard a guess it would involve the price of gas.

This week is the Atlantic Beach Bike Rally aka “The Sports Bike Rally” aka “Black Bike Week.” I just dropped the dog off this morning for a bath and went to the beach to kill some time while that went on. Again, there was a little insanity on Ocean Boulevard but not as much as I was prepared for. I misunderstood when they were undoing the one-way traffic pattern. I thought it ended at 8 AM today but it was still on when I got there at 9:30 AM. One thing I like about spending some of my lunch hours driving randomly in the beach area is that now I know ways to avoid traffic better. I was able to get from the south end of Ocean up around Bummz with only a few blocks on Kings Highway, and then from Bummz to the mall seeing hardly any bikes whatsoever.

I live 15 miles inland so the bike rallies don’t cause me much consternation and I have the option of mostly avoiding them if I want to. For me the only real downside of lower turnouts is that I don’t want businesses I frequent to close if they don’t get enough busy seeing dollars to see them through the winter. That’s party of the life of a full-time resident of a tourist town – trying to dole out your business to keep joints open that you want to eat at or shop at in November or February.

Myrtle Beach’s Comic Shop is Back!

There used to be one comic shop in my area, which was in Surfside Beach at Highway 544 and Kings Highway. We’d drive by it if we were going to Myrtle Beach State Park or the dog park. That shop closed a while ago, which left me with no local comic options. I have periodically been buying comics at the store in Goldsboro NC when we visit my father-in-law. I was pleasantly surprised today to find out that the store is back in business!

Even better, the new location is not far from my day job office so I can easily make a run there at lunch time. Because it is only a few doors down from Sun City Cafe I might make this a periodic package deal – funny books and fish tacos. Back when I was working in downtown Portland OR I had a lunch routine I did every so often. I would take the bus down Burnside to the east side and to go Future Dreams to shop for comics and science fiction books and then get a gyro platter at Foti’s next door. That definitely is a fun way to wile away the lunch hour and melt away the stress of the work day. I might just give this a shake tomorrow.

Myrtle Beach Zombie Walk


Photobucket

I just randomly happened across this poster while I was looking at something else. Apparently there will be a Zombie Walk this weekend in Myrtle Beach. I’m not 100% certain at this point if I’m going to be in town or not on this Saturday. If I am, I’m definitely going to this and shooting some video. Pete Proedehl did his video years ago of the zombie outbreak in Madison. I’d be happy to make a similar video.

For those of you around the Grand Strand, you might think about coming out for this. Who can pass up a chance to act crazy like this? I’m not sure how it raises money but they say on a different poster that all the proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society. Perhaps they are having a brain sale. Do the undead carry cash?

CreateSouth, New Media Conference in Myrtle Beach April 19th

OK kids, registration for the CreateSouth conference is open for business! The conference is April 19th from 9 to 5 PM in downtown Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. All attendees are invited, whether you live and breath new media or are interested but slightly frightened by it. If you are a professional journalist or a politician or a pastor or a musician and want to learn how to make new media work in your career, this is for you. If you have wanted to blog or podcast or videoblog but aren’t sure where to start, this is for you. The goal of this conference is to get the newbies and the wizards together in the same room, talking and hanging out and sharing meals. Our focus is hands on demonstration and we are assembling the program right now to reflect that. The idea of the conference is that if there is some project you want to do but haven’t tackled because the learning curve is too high, you should walk out of the conference knowing where to start and maybe with an email address or three of people that can help you if you get into trouble.

Everyone is welcome that wants to travel to Myrtle Beach in April, but our primary geographic target is the southeast. If you live in the Carolinas or Georgia or Tennessee and are interested, tell your friends, carpool and share a room, come and have a big time with us. We picked April because it is the part of the year when hotels are still considered “out of season” and thus cheaper but the weather has a strong probability of being beautiful. You can bring your whole family. Those who are interested can attend the conference and for those who aren’t, the beach is two blocks away from the site. There is more miniature golf than you can shake a tiny putter at, water parks and movie theaters and all kind of attractions within a few miles of the conference.

We really need a push from the blogosphere to get the word out. Please link to the CreateSouth website, talk it up, tell your friends, suggest programming items you’d like to experience and volunteer to present ones that you know. This is a grassroots conference organized by the Grand Strand blogging community so there is no large organization behind it, just a few individuals who want to make this happen. My unofficial description is that “the Grand Strand Bloggers are throwing themselves a party and seeing who dances.” Come dance with us, friends.