How We Became Jimmy Buffett Fans And ARGH!!! Pirates

In my last blog entry about the Jimmy Buffett concert, I made mention that we saw someone that was dressed in a pirate costume and looked a little like that Jack Sparrow character that is in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The pirate at the concert was accompanied by his damsel.
They were standing in the front row of the concert and they kept showing up on the jumbotron screens, that were set up on both sides of the stage.
When I woke up this morning and started to check my email, you will never guess who I had an email from....
None other than the damsel that accompanied that pirate. Actually the pirates name is Skip Fitzpatrick and the damsel is his wife Gretchen.
Gretchen found my blog entry about the concert as she was searching for photos of the Jumbotron that showed them throughout the concert.
Gretchen was nice enough to send me a bunch of photos from the concert, so I figured that it was only fair to share them with all of you.
I also asked Gretchen if she would be willing to share her story about how she and Skip became Jimmy Buffett fans and how that love for all that is Buffett morphed into their own Parrothead look...Pirates.
I usually write my own stories about anything and everything but she wrote her story so well, that I decided to leave it basically as it is and what I will call...The Creation Of Jimmy Buffett Fans, Parrotheads And Pirates.
Here is Gretchen's story in her words:
Here is a photograph of Skip and Gretchen Fitzpatrick

The Jimmy Buffett craze began with my husband, Skip Fitzpatrick. We are both U.S.Navy sailors but he went out on carrier cruises before becoming an air crewman, while I spent my whole career as an air crewman.
It was during his first cruise aboard the USS Carl Vinson in 1994 that he was introduced to Jimmy Buffett’s “Son of a Sailor” and fell into fandom. While we were dating he was always playing Buffett and told me how much he liked the carefree style of the music.

It wasn’t until after we were married (2002) that I found out Jimmy Buffett was doing concerts fairly close to where we were stationed at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma and I surprised him with floor seats to his first ever JB concert and tailgate in 2005.
The floor seats at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco Texas are amazing because it doesn’t matter where the seats are, you’re never in them.
You can walk and dance and mingle with everyone in the open floor space in the middle of the arena.
He vowed we would go to one every year after…and we (or at least he) have.
I missed one due to military/family business.
Our last concert in Texas was 2010, I had just retired and we were moving a month later to VA for my husband’s last set of orders.

We were a little upset about the new orders to Virginia because the Jimmy Buffett concert wouldn’t be the same.
We didn’t even know that he hadn’t been playing here; we just assumed we would find the closest one and go.
How ironic that the year we move here would be the year he came back. It’s almost like he followed us..(that’s what we tell ourselves).
We looked at the VIP package but it seemed so separate from the crowds that really make a JB concert what it is so we opted to just get the best seats available on the floor and enjoy the festivities beforehand with the people.
We were shocked to learn that there is no tailgating allowed in VA Beach but were determined to have fun anyway.
In order to get the best seats, you had to wait for tickets to go on sale at the box office so my husband (Skip) got this crazy idea to go down overnight to be first in line.
He spent 16 hours outside the gates and then learned that it was going to be a lottery to draw for a place in line.
He was so upset that it was comical and he just had to laugh at himself.
But fate intervened again and he actually drew number one and got to be first in line after all.

We had arranged ahead of time that he would purchase tickets for the group that was going, so they all wound up with front row seats for the same price as the other floor tickets. Wow!
Four of the people had never been to a Buffett concert before (and also had never dressed up as pirates) so it was set to be an incredible night.
We told them they had to dress up as pirates like us so the front row would stand out and we obviously did.
Dressing like a pirate came during our second year.
The first year we went with another friend who said everyone wore grass skirts and leis, so we did. It was a little boring looking like everyone else.
We love the song “A Pirate looks at 40” and Jimmy Buffett always refers to loving pirates growing up.…so pirates it has been ever since and it is so much fun.
Everyone always stops us for pictures, and the pirate talk and saying Arrrrgh all day is fun.
The costumes seem to get more extravagant every year.
I like to keep mine simple because it gets so hot walking around all day before the concert, but my husband loves to go all out (I even do his makeup to match Jack Sparrow). I am the red head with the leopard pants because in true Buffett “life goes on” style, 10 minutes before go time we discovered I left my pirate pants at home and had to carry on with my pajama pants (priceless!!).
Next year I will make sure to have my full ensemble in the bag before husband packs the car HAHAHA.

I think the best part about 2011 was getting to go to TWO Jimmy Buffett concerts. I really wanted the kids (4 sons, age 17, 13, 12 and 7) to experience it before he stopped doing them.
They have been raised on his music all their lives and I didn’t want them to miss it waiting to be adults (no offense Jimmy, just in case).
So we bought lawn seats for the concert in Raleigh North Carolina, and did the whole early in line and run to the front of the section thing. Jimmy Buffett fans are friendly and fun loving so it wasn’t that bad.
No pushing, shoving or rudeness at all; always room for one more at Buffett…hahaha. They were great seats, saw the stage, saw the jumbos, speakers were right behind us so sound was excellent.
Kids had a blast dancing, singing and playing with the beach balls.

We are looking forward to moving back to Oklahoma this summer (Skip retiring now) just so we can go back to the concerts in Texas.
It is a 2 day party before and an all nighter after in the parking lots. People even bring in sand and make their own beach bars.
The coral reef band comes out to the lots and plays a few songs and does autographs (Nadira signed my red and black headband last year…hence it was not on the costume this year).
There are local bands that play throughout and it is a great crowd.
VA Beach is really missing out on that. Can you imagine a Jimmy Buffett beach party…… that would be AWESOME!!!
Come on Virginia, you’re a tourist area…lighten up!

We were so excited to be in the front row this year (2011) in VA Beach, we started counting how many eye contacts we got from the stage, we got up to 9.
He may not remember but we will. My husband was thrilled that Jimmy went out of his way to throw the signature flip flops to “the pirates” and will treasure it (after he stops sleeping with it of course).
Our friend, and fellow Navy sailor, Jessica (blond wig, pink pirate costume) got the other one and I think she stopped breathing for a second.
She also used to be stationed in Oklahoma with us and went to first concert there last year.
Our other friend, and also fellow Navy sailor from Oklahoma, Rob (shirtless w/ tattoos, took off his costume after sweating to death) was there for his first concert and LOVED it.
Our neighbors, Matt and Brandi (blond, male pirate costume with no dreads, and velvet female pirate costume with neck choker) had a blast.
They had never been to one and it was pulling teeth to get Matt into a costume but as soon as he felt the vibe and was asked for a few pictures he had “Changes in Attitude”. They arrived late and missed the picture with us on at the red carpet screen but they went to lunch the next day at Cheeseburger in Paradise in Newport News and the waiter recognized them from the jumbotron…how cool.
I think we will see them in costume every year now too. Skips sister Bridget came in from Richmond (the blond one in the tan and green pirate wench costume) and enjoyed her first Buffett concert.
The only one missing was “pretty boy” Josh Tanner who gave us the first tickets in 2005.
He had to attend the concert near San Diego this year where he got stationed.
Missed you Josh…

In the group photo in front of the stage during the concert are as follows top to bottom, left to right:

Matt Zentz, Skip Fitzpatrick, Brandi Clarke, Bridget Fitzpatrick, Gretchen Fitzpatrick

Fins To The Left And Fins To The Right

Last night Veronica and I went to the highly anticipated and long awaited Jimmy Buffett concert.
The excitement for this event was so thick, you could have cut it with a knife.
Veronica and I checked into our Homewood Suites room around 3PM. After spending about 90 minutes taking it easy and then dressing for the concert, we headed out around 4:30PM.
We figured that we would leave a little early for the concert figuring that the traffic was going to be brutal and backed up for miles.
We were very surprised when we saw that the traffic was moving rather quickly and even more surprised when we were parked in the lot, surrounded by tailgaters and party go-ers dressed in the finest parrot-head garb, shortly after leaving our hotel room.
This was the first time that Veronica and I had ever done a "premium package" for a concert.
We were able to park very close to the VIP Club entrance.
As it was rather warm out still, we decided to hang out in our car, with the a/c on and take in all of the festivities going on all around us.
We were allowed into the club area at 6PM. They had several bar areas, lots of chairs that were placed around many separated tables and there was a small pond that had a fountain in the middle of it.
After having a couple of diet soft drinks and some nachos(which took forever to be delivered to our table), we  decided to head into the main food, drink and souvenir court area. It wasn't hard to figure out which stall was selling Jimmy Buffett t-shirts and ball caps. It was the one with all the people in various lines, awaiting their turn to make their choices and purchases.
Veronica and I got in line and about 20 minutes later it was our turn to shop. We each picked out a favorite t-shirt that we wanted from about 10 styles and I also decided to get a deep blue ballcap with a colorful Jimmy Buffet embroidered on it along with a colorful parrot. On the back of the ballcap was the words "fins up" with the outline of a shark fin on it....classic Buffett stuff.
Veronica and I then proceeded to our box seats which were almost dead center to the stage.
At some point in time, Veronica ordered a frozen margarita. Veronica's drink arrived in a clear tall plastic container that was in the shape of a guitar. Veronica told me that it was the best tasting margarita that she had ever had and for the $19 it cost us it should be.
As the time was getting closer for the concert to start, the seats began to fill and the festivities of Buffett concerts began. Beach balls were being tossed everywhere and it was great to just kick back and people watch...especially those dressed out in parrot head garb. There were even a few pirates and damsels in the crowd. One guy that was dressed as a pirate looked a lot like the Jack Sparrow character in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series.
They ended up being right in front of the stage and were shown on the jumbotron screens several times during the concert.
We could not believe how many people were in the lawn seating area. It was just a mass of people everywhere you looked.
Jimmy Buffett was making his return to the Virginia Beach Verizon Wireless Amphi-Theater after an 11 year absence and the crowd gave him a huge resounding welcome.
The concert was great and a lot of fun. It was an amazing sight watching everyone dancing and singing, arms in the air, beach balls being tossed around everywhere...just a lot of energy. The joint was hopping to say the least.
The concert ended around 10:30PM and Veronica and I made our way quickly to our car so that we could try our best to beat the traffic jam that was sure to happen when the thousands and thousands of fans made their way out of the area.
Unfortunately we ended up getting caught in a bit of a traffic jam as we tried to leave the parking lot.
As we stood still waiting for the traffic to move, we saw a huge tour type of bus being lead out of an auxiliary road in the parking lot area and it was being lead by a police escort with lights flashing.
Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band had already lifted their anchor and were sailing off to their next port of call...which we believe is Nashville.
And for Veronica and I, well....we set sail for our next port of call...the Homewood Suites, where we dropped our anchors for the night.
This concert had been on Veronica's "bucket list" for quite some time and I was so happy to be able to share this special event and time with her.
It is a memory that we will share together for many years to come.
Here we are just about ready to head out for the concert

 Veronica in front of the VIP Club entrance

Veronica in the VIP area where they serve drinks and food. Water fountain in the background is in the center of a small pond

This is what it looked like before the concert started and before a lot of the parrot heads arrived
 Here is Veronica with her dream coming true

 Unfortunately we did not have our new camera yet. We were using Veronica's ITouch
to take some of these photos and our old Kodak camera to take some of the others.

 Just a sea of humanity as far as your eye could see...lawn seating at its best

Below are the best photos that we were able to get at the concert. We used our old Kodak camera and had to hide it in between photos because they were really watching out for those that were photographing and  taping the concert. One trick that the lighting people do is to have the stage lights aimed out into the audience, making it difficult to take many high quality photos. We had to take them when the opportunity offered

Below are some videos taken during the concert. Sorry that the quality is not better but it was tough just to get what we were able to get.

Sony Made Things Right For Us

After getting no where and extremely frustrated with Sony's Customer Service personnel, Veronica decided to do some checking on one of those huge social networking sites that she belongs to.
After doing some research, Veronica found one of the top people that run Sony and she decided to leave a message on his "wall" and after he accepted her as his friend and reading what she wrote, things began to happen rather quickly.
Within 24 hours, Veronica got a call from a Sony Supervisor in charge of Social Media and Post Sales Support and Promotions.
After exchanging a few emails, along with providing Sony personnel with a copy of our invoice from our broken cameras repair at Precision Camera, we were afforded several options.
One option was to trade our camera in for a new even trade with no additional money coming out of our pockets. Unfortunately I found the new camera being offered to us was less of a camera, as far as features are concerned, than the one we currently have.
I really didn't like the thought of trading down. I knew that if I did that, I would regret it for a long time.
The 2nd option was to upgrade to a better camera and apply what our camera was worth towards the purchase of a new camera. I knew that it was going to cost us a few dollars but the camera that we are getting is twice the camera that we currently have and we were getting it at a really great price. Although this new camera is a real upgrade, it still has many of the features that our current camera has and ones that we are familiar with. The learning curve to use the upgraded features should not be too steep since we are familiar with this style of camera.
What we decided on getting is the very recently released Sony Cyber-shot® Digital Camera DSC-HX100V
We are really excited about getting this camera. We should be able to preserve some great memories with this beauty.
It really is amazing at some of the things that this camera is capable of doing plus I really like the fact that it is a 16.2 mega pixel camera and has a 27mm  equivalent wide angle lens and 30x Optical Zoom lens...

•Focal Length (35mm equivalent) : Still 16:9: 29-870mm, Still 4:3: 27-810mm, Movie 16:9: 29-870mm (Standard mode), 30-900mm (Active mode), Movie 4:3: 36-1080mm (Standard mode), 37-1110mm (Active mode)
This is easily twice the capabilities of our old camera.

Although our initial contact with various customer service personnel was less than desirable, once we were able to get our issues to a higher authority and an upper level Supervisor, our outcome was a very satisfactory one for Veronica and I.  Thank You to those that made this positive outcome happen.

They Sure Don't Make Things The Way They Used To - Sony

In December of 2008, 2 1/2 years ago, I bought Veronica a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H50 Digital camera.
I purchased this camera based on brand name along with the numerous features that were built into the camera. I did a lot of research before making this purchase through an online retailer called Abes Of Maine.
Veronica and I have made many purchases of Sony products over the last couple of decades, including but not limited to televisions, dvd players, cd players, blue ray player, receivers and speakers, 5.1 channel home theater in a box and a camera.
For us Sony has always been synonymous with high quality products. At least they were until the purchase of this camera.
I gave this camera to Veronica as a Christmas gift.
The camera worked fine until about 6-7 months ago. It was at this time that Veronica and I noticed these horizontal lines going across a portion of the photos that were taken.
After doing some research, we sent the camera to an authorized Sony camera repair business.... Precision Camera  This repair business has been doing camera repairs since 1948.
I did as they instructed to get the camera repaired, which included a check for $120.95 A couple of weeks later we received the camera back and it was working great.
Approximately 3 months ago, while Veronica and I were out in Las Vegas, we started having a different problem with the camera.
This time the camera seemed to be totally out of sync. I could turn the camera on and the lens would expand out like it should. But when I turned the camera off, the lens would not return back into the camera body.
I had to keep turning the camera on and off until the camera would sync with the lens and the lens would return to its camera off position.
This happened numerous times and basically made the camera unusable until I could get it to get in sync with itself.
We also had another problem with this camera, we would press the button to turn the camera on and instead of the camera turning on and extending the lens like it normally does, the initial camera splash screen would quickly show up in the LCD screen and then disappear. Basically, We could not gets this camera to turn on at times thus making it useless.
Since we had already spent $120.95 to have the camera repaired several months earlier, for a totally different problem, we did not feel that we should spend additional money on getting it repaired for the 2nd time.
We would have been spending a total of $250.00 on camera repairs, for a camera that cost us less than $400.00.
The cost of the camera does not include the extra 5 batteries and additional chargers that was purchased for the use of this camera nor does it include the cost of numerous extra SD cards, a nice Sony camera bag or various lens ring adapters along with various lenses, such as a UV lens, a macro lens to name just a couple.
Veronica sent out a letter to Sony explaining what was going on with the camera and wrote basically everything that I have written for this blog entry.
While we were gone for the last 3 days, a Sony representative has called the house, left their name, return telephone number along with a reference number.
Veronica spent a majority of today returning these calls and trying to get someone to actually act like they cared about what was going on with our camera.
All of her attempts were futile.
Veronica spoke to 3 separate customer service individuals and sadly none of them acted like they cared, told her that there was nothing that they could do for her and when asked by Veronica, each refused to pass her call up to a manager or someone at a higher level than they were.
One of the Customer Service Reps took down Veronica's home number so that a Senior Customer Service Rep could call her back and discuss the issue with her. After Veronica waited 8 hours for this Senior Customer Service Rep to call her and not getting a return telephone call, Veronica called Customer Service back again. Veronica was told that they did not have her home telephone number on file and that was why she did not get a call.
And during each of these conversations with Customer Service personnel, Veronica made sure that each Sony Customer Service Representative that she spoke to understood that she was not asking for a refund, that she was not asking for a new camera but all that she was asking for was for Sony to stand behind the product that they sold us and make the proper repairs so that we could once again enjoy the use of this camera.
Unfortunately, none of the Sony Customer Service Representatives seemed to care much about the camera nor Veronica as a consumer.
Needless to say, this has left us with a rather negative consumer opinion towards Sony, their products and especially their customer service personnel.
What ever happened to the Sony Company of days gone by. A company that made great products and stood behind those products...a company that cared and valued their customers.
Where is the old Sony company that I used to know and trust. It surely would be a shame if it was gone for good.

On The Road Again

Tuesday morning Veronica and I headed to the Chesapeake VA area for a 3 day training session, that Veronica had to attend.
We will be driving home this afternoon but not before making a Super Walmart stop in order to get some groceries.
Then we will be homeward bound.
The only bad thing about returning home is having to go through everything and put it all back where it belongs. It seems to take forever to get it all done.
Tonight we will also have groceries to put away and wash to be done.
It's going to be a late night. 

A Long 24 Hours But Well Worth It

Veronica and I are back at home from our participation in the ACS 2011 Relay For Life Outer Banks NC event.
I was somewhat disappointed the turnout for this event. There were quite a number of participants for the event but not as many non-participants visiting the event as I would have hoped for.
Those who did participate gave it their all and were quite a spirited group of very caring individuals.
Our booth had so many cupcakes that were able to donate many dozens of cupcakes to a local food bank or charity.
This same event next year will bring some fresh new ideas as far as what item(s)to raffle off and especially what type of food or item to sell.
I could not begin to tell you how many laps I walked during the course of this event. After many hours of staying awake during this event, the laps around the track all seemed to blend together into one smoky blur.
And speaking of smoky blurs, there was a fire many miles from this event but depending on which way the wind was blowing, you could see the fog like smoke drifting over the event and it was not a healthy environment for those whose stayed and walked in it. There were a few that had to leave the event because of the health hazard the smoke had created.
After we got home, we put everything away quickly and then Veronica and I went to bed for a while.
I wish that we could have raised a lot more money for the cause but we did the best that we could and next year we will get and be better at raising funds and items for donations and for the raffles.
The ideas have already started to flow within Team Maxxinista for next years event.
Below are some photos from the event:

This is what it all looked like at the very beginning of people arriving and setting up

 Team Maxxinista tent is beginning to take shape

 Big difference from what it will look like in a couple of hours

 As the morning progressed more and more groups arrived and tents went up 

 Opening ceremonies are getting ready to begin

 Hershel accompanied me to this event. He played a little guitar, did a pole dance and generally added some fun as only Hershel can do. Hershel; also enjoyed listening to the music that was played by various bands. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Hershel tapping his hand and moving his head to the beat of the music. I think he really enjoyed himself. Because he has spent the last 7-8 months under our bed, with little or no human contact, I had to sit down and have a talk with him about being polite and watching his behavior while we were at this event. Hershel can sometimes be a little inappropriate in his behavior. Hershel was a total gentleman at this event and I was proud of him and the restraint he showed.

 Here are a couple of young ladies getting ready to decorate their own cupcake, which the theme of our tent in order to generate some donations

 Opening lap

 Hershel is spreading the joy and laughter

 Everyone that was planning on spending the night and trying to get some sleep brought  a tent. Here is just one of the many nice looking big tents that were put up.

 Unfortunately this mini tent was what one of our teammates accidentally brought to the event for us to use....she grabbed the wrong tent box when she left her home. Out tent took a lot of ribbing as "runt" tents usually do. Those big fancy tents were unmerciless. And our small runt tent was last seen sobbing his way back to its owners vehicle...poor thing. Hard to believe that in this day and age, that bullying still exists in tentdom.

 Talk about a tight fit

Another tent city is born. Please note how all of those big tents hang together. That darn tent mob mentality.   

 It was getting close to quiet time. These kids walked around the track carrying signs that people used the quiet inside voice. The signs read "hush"

 When it gets real late and you are real tired, you find any way you can to make a lap around the track

 Hershel had a great day being able to get out from under our bed and getting a good dusting off and sprucing up

Below is Hershels rendition of pole dance

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