Wednesday, November 09, 2005

on the bus to washington dc...

i gotta say, after a couple days in atlantic city, i was ready for a change of scenery.the bus trip from AC to DC was actually really nice. we had some very interesting people on our bus and we listened to their stories the whole way. there was a group of ladies who regularly go to AC for slot machine tournaments. from the sound of it, they often win good money doing this. one lady took her sizable winnings and bought a minivan! she had a lot of good karma built up (as we found out a little later). we listened to her talk about fostering special needs children and the joy/ heartbreak it brought her. she was poor, but managed to work and educate herself out of poverty. she then turned her strong will and good heart to fostering children who had nobody else. these are kids with physical and mental disabilities so severe, regular fostering was out of the question. one of these kids had been so horribly abused, he had severe brain damage. he couldn't see, and the doctors were sceptical that he had cognitive function. but, she loved and took care of him anyway. she would put his hands on her face and hum on his neck to let him know she was there to love him. she said he would smile soooo wide when she did that. she KNEW he was aware of her. he was just trapped in an unresponsive 4 year old body. she cared for him daily and gave him all the love she had. unfortunately, the brain damage the boy had from the severe child abuse took it's toll. she came home from work one day and found EMS and the police outside her apartment. she said she just KNEW it was her little boy! the paramedics came out with the stretcher and the little boy under the sheets. they said he had a brain seizure and it stopped his heart. she said it just about killed her at that moment. later, she was looking at his medical file and at the bottom it listed the prognosis: terminal, not expected to live more than 2 years. she said that even if she had noticed that at the bottom of the file when she had first seen the boy, she would have done exactly the same. that boy needed her, and she needed to love that boy. i think the whole bus was on the verge of tears listening to this story. i know i was. i will always remember that story and that woman.
when we all got off the bus in DC, i felt sad that i wouldn't be around her anymore. it's not often that you meet someone who loves so unconditionally. she had this aura around her that kinda made you feel good just being near her.
this was the best bus trip i have ever had. somehow, i don't think i could have had a comparable experience if we had flown. on the bus, you are a part of the changing scenery. you see the miles you travel and the people you travel with as a whole experience. it's somehow easier to talk to strangers on a bus. on a plane, everybody is crammed together, but you spend your flight trying to maintain your personal space. it's hard to turn and talk to people when all you can think about is not being able to stretch your legs or stand up and walk around freely. on a bus, you have leg and elbow room. it's easy to turn around and talk to the person across the aisle or in the seat behind you. yeah, i know, busses are slow, sometimes stinky, and kind of a pain to travel long distances. but, if you are only going a couple or 3 hours, it is rather refreshing.
more vacation stories later...

Monday, October 31, 2005

welcome ta joisey!

as many stereotypes and preconceptions there are about new york and new yorkers, there must be at least as many and twice as bad, for new jersey and the people who live there. sometimes ya gotta see for yourself to get the true lowdown. the missus and i had a fantastic stay in nyc the previous week. we then decided to hop a bus to atlantic city and do a little sightseein' and stuff. the bus was a "special" that ran from manhattan to a number of casinos in atlantic city (heretofore referred to as "ac" 'cuz i'm lazy). if you get off at a casino, they give you gambling money and/ or perks (aka "comps") to go in and spend your money there. sweet deal! the tickets were $30 a piece and we got $15 each from "the donald" at trump plaza when we arrived!
unfortunately the weather was cold, windy, and rainy. so, we skipped some of the sightseeing and found a hotel. we were lucky to find one (especially a cheap one) because AC hotels get TOTALLY booked up over the weekends. not only that, they double their rates for saturday night! we are talking STEEP! for kicks we checked the trump plaza rates($280 on fri. $360 on sat!), and ended up at an econolodge for about $90. the saturday rate for "the econ" went up to $160, ouch. we ended up at "the flamingo"(alternately called "the mingo" because the neon sign was broken, and "the fleabag" for obvious reasons) for saturday night. even the dump hotels were charging over $100 a night! so to sum up so far... good cheap bus trip, bad hotel prices. it doesn't quite balance out, but whatever.
i must admit, the trip into new jersey showed me a beautiful and green side of the state that i didn't know existed. we traveled winding roads with tons of beautiful trees and flora. it didn't start looking sketchy until we hit AC. there was an overabundance of dilapidated and abandoned buildings. LOTS of sketchy people and a very numerous homeless population. we saw too many police cars keeping VERY busy into the wee hours. please don't think i'm going to totally knock AC and it's residents in the dirt. even with the bad and somewhat scary things we saw, we had a decent time. there was this fantastic waitress at the bar & grill next to our hotel. she was very nice. she made good food suggestions and directed us to cheap cigs. (the bar wanted $8 a pack!) again, nice people helped us when we needed it, and put up with our rather foreign-sounding accents. (we're from TEXAS y'all!) the casinos were very nice, and the boardwalk along the atlantic shore was amazing. somehow though, we never managed to get any pictures our whole time there. we left after 2 nights in AC. time to move on to our nation's capitol...WASHINGTON D.C!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

vacation's all i ever wanted. vacation, so happy to get away...

i am refreshed! i just came back from the most outstanding couple of weeks off from work, ever! it had been way too long since i took time away from the daily grind, and i enjoyed every moment of it. me and the missus went to nyc , atlantic city and washington d.c. . i guess austin is more expensive than i thought, 'cause all i've ever heard was how expensive new york city was. y'know, the $10 sandwich and "everything costs more in nyc" stories you hear. well, maybe there are $10 sandwiches and maybe there are over-priced items, but we really didn't run up against that kind of thing. maybe our friends there just kept us away from it, but our dinners at really decent restaurants didn't cost us any more than what we pay here in austin. kinda creepy, huh? i mean really, two people eating appetizers, one or two entrees, and non-alcoholic drinks ran us about 30-40$. and, we ate like KINGS! all the portions were large, the quality was great, even the service was pretty good. so consider this one myth about the big apple busted.
another myth meant to be busted was that new yorkers are obnoxious jerks who don't really give a damn. wrong-o! a number of times we had NICE new yorkers help us with questions and directions. a couple even went out of their way to help! what a great surprise. now, as a rule, new yorkers seem fairly jaded and kinda "mindin' my own business", but when engaged, were very good people. i'll get to the rest later. it's good to be home again, though!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best! The Hottest Band In The World....

KISS!!!!!!!!!, no. sorry.

truly one of the more "must see" bands in austin, texas. if you can dig a space-rockin' 4 piece (including a theremin!) in horse head masks, i have the band for you! they just played at room 710 on red river st. with the shim shams, transmography, and attic ted. it was a show filled with the fire and energy you come to expect from a group of hungry, up and coming bands. now, i cannot say that i am in any way objective, since i know the band personally. however, i am not one to let a little thing like having a personal stake in this, cloud my judgement. rubber robot rules! they have been playing room 710 pretty frequently (which, by the way, is a kick-ass club with cheap drink happy hours!), but also have played beerland, headhunters, a biker rally, and been part of a number of private parties. the crowds are UNANIMOUS! RUBBER ROBOT WILL RULE THE INSTRUMENTAL SPACE-ROCK WORLD! you can catch them soon at a club near you! trust me on this, see Rubber Robot. it'll change your life.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

the pool area is so big, a 1000 people could be there and you would still have plenty of elbow room! from various parts of the pool, you can see the austin skyline peeking through the trees. Posted by Picasa

the pool is almost a 1/4 mile long and up to 12 feet deep. in the pool you will find fish, crawfish, a rare species of salamander, tadpoles and other critters. it has a natural rocky bottom with aquatic vegetation and moss growing in it. Posted by Picasa

barton springs pool in zilker park. a 68 degree temperature year-round, natural spring fed pool. the best place in austin to keep cool. period.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

beating the heat!

sometimes it's just waaaay too hot to be outside. on the northwest side of austin, there is as a nifty place called Main Event Entertainment that has everything you could want to do indoors! bowling, blackjack and poker tables (sorry, only playing for chips. no cash winnings :( ), rock wall climbing, laser tag, video and arcade games, pool tables, blacklight miniature golf, full-service snack bar and best of all A COUPLE OF LIQUOR BARS too! WOO HOO! you can spend a whole evening and a wad of cash on an extremely entertaining couple of hours. it is soooo worth it! my friends and i have been there a couple of times to celebrate birthdays and let me tell you; it's even more fun when you are drinking shots all night long! ooooooooh yeeeeah!
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Monday, October 03, 2005

one thing always leads to another...

it all starts so innocently... around 10pm the missus runs into the bedroom shouting about water all over the floor and how it just wont stop flowing! i go from dead sleep guy to fast walkin' fix it guy in two seconds flat! she takes me into the laundry room where a huge pool of water has formed all over the floor. taking only a few seconds to appreciate the beauty of a miniature waterfall created by the water pouring over the doorsill into the back yard, i leap into action! i figure out the drain hose has come loose from the back of the washer (PHEW! no $100 washer repair bill this time!). it had been spewing water all over for the past 2 hours, when i started the washer before bedtime. we probably are going to notice a spike in our water bill! so, crisis averted, water stopped, time to go back to bed, NOT! the missus shows me the linoleum tiles on the floor are ruined. the corners of each tile has peeled up from the floor and the rest of the tiles are swollen with dank-smelling water. " i'll fix it tomorrow after i get home." i say with confidence. little did i know it was going to be "anything can happen day"!

so, i work alone for the first few hours at work (the other guy oversleeps). nothing like doing double duty to start your day right!

after work, i buy a bunch of groceries, but the store is OUT of paper bags (which i need to strap all this stuff to my bike).who ever heard of a store without paper bags? i looked like a homeless dude in chef pants, with all those plastic bags hanging from my bicycle handlebars.

on the way home, i pop my back tire. pssssssh! can you say; 30 minute walk with a full load of groceries and a crippled bike?

when i finally get home, i pull the washing machine away from the the wall and fix it fairly quickly (the high point of my day!).

then, i realize i have to peel and scrape all the tiles off the floor of the laundry room (lovely.). this job turns into a sticky, goopy, dirty, knuckle-scraping, back-breaking afternoon job.

i finally get it all scraped off. after washing the floor, i notice the floor adhesive still doesn't come off (extra-lovely!). so now i have a 6ftx7ft room with a floor that feels like fly paper! i need a beer.

so, anybody know a good solvent for floor tile mastic?

this whiny rant brought to you by the letter "WAAAAAA!"

Friday, September 30, 2005

freaky weather

in texas, you expect it to be hot. it's a given. texas=hot. a total no-brainer. but, like all places everywhere, the seasons change and so does the weather. for 4 days straight, our fall weather went hotter instead of cooler. 108, 107, 105, 104 degrees! we are supposed to be in the upper 80s/low 90s! of course, this just happens to coincide with the OUTDOOR austin city limits festival. i couldn't help but feel sympathy for our out-of-town guests who suffered like souls, standing at the gates of hell. a couple of bands from the UK were real troopers and performed fantastic shows. they were sweating like a bunch of sprinkler heads on full! poor guys, but well done! (pardon the pun)
so the whole city begs for relief and gets it, in abundance. the temperature dropped a whopping 25 degrees on thursday. temperatures were cruising around 80 degrees. schitzophrenic weather! well, it's back in the 90s today. i blame global warming for this weather freakiness. what next? sunshine and 80 degrees on christmas???? oh yeah, it already is like that. oh well, whatever.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

power-lounging on the front porch

dl Posted by Picasa

quickly fills a room with fragrance

***Buttercup posting***
that was the tag line on a commercial for a glade candle/oil contraption i saw tonight. what a strange and scary thing to say.... but someone's falling for it. what if i don't WANT to quickly fill my room with some freaky fakey fragrance?

I happen to like the smell of bleach after cleaning the sink, or the smell of rain on the breeze as it crosses through my front door and out my kitchen window, and the smell of garlic, onion and cumin sizzling in cast iron on my stove.

pies in the window courtesy of buttercup.

returning from the abyss

welllllll, long time no blog! i guess you can say that i decided to take the summer off. or you can say i'm a lazy bastard who didn't feel like taking the time to update his blog. personally, i'm voting for explanation number 2! so, i'm back.
there has been a tremendous amount of activity in austin since the last time i wrote anything down. so much has happened, that i'm probably going to be a bit spotty on filling you in.
let's start with a new blog addition: the missus! that's right, she speaks! on occasion, you will see a blog entry with the name BUTTERCUP prominently placed at the top. this is the missus's blog entry. i'm sure there is some new-fangled way to actually give us separate notation or identification when one of us is blogging, but i'm a little too low-tech to figure it out. so, for now, we'll just headline the blog with her name; buttercup :) . she is my one and only, so y'all be nice to her. i'm understandably, very protective of her.
i'm going to stop here and let her have her say, i'll be back later with more austin stuff including the Austin City Limits Festival (ACL for short), our incredibly freaky weather, and some nifty up-to-date pictures!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

the Mexican burn

springtime in austin brings all kinds of wonderful things. all of austin turns vibrant green, and the smell of flowers permeates the air. birds are singing, kids are playing, and the college kids are partying all night. the days are warm and the nights are cool and breezy. sounds like paradise, huh? wellllll.....there is one thing spring brings that is not so nice; the Mexican burn.
every year the farmers in Mexico burn the residuals of their crops and all the foliage that covers the fields for new planting. the burnt vegetation enriches the soil and prepares the fields for new crops. it is very easy and efficient. unfortunately, during a two-week period, it is done in such a large part of western Mexico, that it creates a tremendous smoke cloud. traditional wind patterns blow this smoke hundreds and hundreds of miles north through texas. the smoke is so thick and irritating, air quality warnings are widespread. people with breathing problems, the elderly, and pets are warned to stay inside as much a possible. every year, there are people hospitalised and even killed by this dense brown cloud. it is so big, and so dense, the space shuttle has taken pictures of it from space! it looks very similar to the pictures taken of the most recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland. sometimes we'll get lucky and a weather front from the north blows through and pushes it back into Mexico, but not often enough for me! it rained for a little bit the other day, and all the smoke turned the water kinda greeny-brown, UGH! looking over the austin skyline, you can see a brownish-green haze. in the evening, we sometimes get colorful sunsets because of all the particulate matter floating around. i just wish it would go away! i ride my bicycle to work every day, and boy howdy, i feel like my lungs are struggling to breathe sand! luckily it only lasts about a week or so. there have been diplomatic efforts made to get the farmers to change their practices, but the farmers are poor and their resources are limited. they really don't have much of a choice. so, every year about this time, we just "cowboy up" and deal with it.