Thursday, March 30, 2006

Live Hot Nude Grackle Action

Made you look!

Today our building's sewage line backed up. Our bathrooms were closed for half a day. Did they send us home? You'd think so, wouldn't you? We get LBJ's birthday off, fer crissakes. But no. We just had to tough it out.

Fortunately I'm on the second floor. I understand that life on the first floor was somewhat unpleasant for much of the day.

We three newbies escaped by taking a nice break outside, away from the portion of the parking lot that was flooded with raw sewage, and watched birds gamboling in the spring sunshine. A gaggle of male grackles surrounded a lone female, who seemed pretty oblivious to their presence. Most flew off, but one determined fellow strutted nearby for a while with his beak reared up in the air. Finally, sensing the moment, he made his move: he hunched his shoulders, fluttered his wings, puffed up his neck, and raced around and around the female in circles, screaming.

Kind of makes you wonder how there get to be so many grackles in the first place. Then again, maybe the females are just really, really desperate, and we've all been there, haven't we? Hell, if they served alcohol at work, I'd probably be out there myself, yelling "Hey baby, show us your pinfeathers!"

There's a reason serious birders don't drink heavily.

The female, who was apparently neither desperate nor drunk, flew off alone, and Casanova took off in a different direction. Well, the course of true love never did run smooth.

Kind of like a sewage line.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pop Quiz

I did mention there'd be a pop quiz, didn't I?

1. Apple is to schoolteacher as ___________ is to police officer:
a) Nightstick
b) Steve Guttenberg
c) Doughnut
d) All of the above blended into a protein shake

2. Explain the political and economic factors leading up to the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands. Use no adjectives.

3. Which of the following cannot be obtained at a Super Wal-Mart?
a) Birth control
b) Heavy artillery
c) Crustless white bread
d) A wineglass rack

4. What do you do with a drunken sailor? What do you do with a drunken sailor? What do you do with a drunken sailor, ear-lye in the morning?

5. What is your favorite color?
a) Pink
b) Blue
d) Spam

6. Lucinda Williams
a) True
b) False

7. According to Miss Manners, what is the proper thing to say after passing wind in company?
a) "Excuse me."
b) "Who's been feeding the dog Tex-Mex again?"
c) Nothing at all.
d) "I thought I told that asshole to shut up!"

8. Marshmallow
a) A tasty confection
b) A disgusting, sugary blob of gelatinous goo whose sole function is to be tortured to a fiery death

9. Corpus Christi is to Austin as ____________ is to classical Athens
a) Sparta
b) the human armpit
c) Lincoln, Nebraska
d) Graham Central Station

10. What band is playing on my stereo right now?

I certainly hope you've all been studying.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Shopping, Live Music, and Urban Legends

Woohoo, they let me out last night! I went to a party just west of Lamar near downtown, and since I was coming from Travis Heights, I figured I'd pop into Whole Foods - my first visit to the "new" location - and pick up a bottle of wine.

I goggled. The party was right up the hill from the modest little building which housed the original Whole Foods store - now a Cheapo Discs - a cozy, small-town-Austin-funky neighborhood grocery. It had large, friendly vegetables on the front and showed little indication of turning into a gigantic corporate empire.

Teddy and Marge was playing in the front yard when I arrived. It's a big old house, in pretty bad repair, that's been subdivided into cramped one-bedroom apartments. Oh, but the view... It's on the slope of the hill that rises up from Lamar, and if you stand on the front porch and look out, the Capitol building is staring you right in the face. Steps continue up the hill for the length of the backyard. Margie, her boyfriend Bill, and I climbed them and stood all alone at the silent top of the world, the outskirts of downtown spread below us and the tall buildings glowing like fairy castles.

Of course, the fairiest-castlest building in the Austin skyline is that pointy silver new one my kids call the Alien Nose Hair Trimmer. Bill told me he'd heard that the architect who designed it had been kicked out of UT and finished his degree at Rice, so when he was called to work on a design for an Austin building, he got the last laugh on UT by making the top of the building, when viewed from a certain angle, look like an owl, which is Rice's mascot.

Sound familiar?

The version Bill was told adds the detail that it's meant to look specifically like the mechanical owl from Clash of the Titans.

It was a great party. Not every day do I get to turn down an offer to waltz in somebody's front yard (in these shoes? I don't think so) or sing with Margie Pargie through Attic Ted's sound system, which really needs to be looked at by a good electrician, because I don't think the phrase "hot mike" is supposed to mean it shocks the singer at random intervals.

Or maybe they were trying to tell me something.

Our hostess, I understand, is moving out of her apartment because the $650 a month is a bit steep for her, plus she'd kind of like a place that isn't missing part of the floor. I wonder if I could fit my whole family into a one-bedroom? Probably not, but it might be worth it for the view.

And I could shop at Whole Foods whenever I wanted!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Panty-Launching Musical Goodness

For all the myriad divisions and subdivisions of classical, pop, rock, jazz, blues, country, Baroque, Celtic, hip-hop, zydeco, etc. etc. etc., there are really basically two genres of music:

Music for clapping along to, and music not for clapping along to.

I've always put Stereolab pretty firmly in the latter category - not because they aren't rocking by any means, but because they're so good. The music is so beautifully laid out, all the textures and colors so perfectly blended, there's really nothing a listener can add to it. (This from someone who sings along at the top of her lungs in the car, mind you.)

So who else went to see them at La Zona Rosa last night? Post a comment! Was it not the most fabulotacular show ever?

It's not that often that I run into someone else who's into Stereolab, so it was really something to find myself jostled in a thick crowd of such people. It feels pretty much the same as being jostled in a crowd of Wal-Mart shoppers until the music kicks in, and everybody's dancing and waving their arms in the air and, yes, a few people clapping, bless their hearts. Oh, but it was wonderful. Damn they're good! I loved the French horn used in place of double-tracking some of the vocals, too - just made it that much more live, and the timbre of the horn was a really nice complement to Laetitia's gorgeous yummy voice.

Respecting her wishes, no one threw any of these. The group did seem to appreciate the bra, though, which looked like quite a nice one. (It wasn't mine. I was not standing close enough.)

Before last night I would also have said Stereolab was not a band to throw your underwear at.

It's good to expand your musical horizons!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sucky Truism #547

If you are really, really, really discreet, no one can ever appreciate how marvelously discreet you are.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In Lieu of Content, We Have McTavish

I told my third-favorite joke to my two coworkers in the car on the way back to Austin from San Angelo. They can testify that it's better if I write it out than tell it to you in person. This way you don't have to squirm through my unpassable Scots accent.

(I really feel like writing, but can't think of anything interesting to write about. At least, not that I'd publish on the Internet for God-n-everybody to see... hello!)

So this Scotsman walks into a bar and sees his old friend moping dejectedly over his pint. "Why, McTavish," he exclaims, "whatever is the matter?"

"Och!" cries McTavish, "it's a sad life I lead!

"Look how much I do for this town," he says. "Look out at the village square, there, the center of village life. I cleared that square, I did, cut down every tree with me own two hands. But do they call me McTavish the tree-cutter? Nooooo!

"And look yonder," he continues, "at the well in the center of that fine square. Without that well, where would the villagers get water? And I dug that well, dug it with me own two hands! But do they call me McTavish the well-digger? Noooooo!

"And see that handsome church on the other side of the square!" he cries, warming to his subject. "That church has saved every soul in this village! And I built it, I did, from the ground up, with me own two hands! But do they call me McTavish the church-builder? Nooooo!

"But fuck ONE GOAT..."

Don't joke and drive, y'all. Peace out.

I Fought HR, and HR Won

Human Resources are the Vogons of the workplace world; in Douglas Adams' words, "not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous."

So it's really saying something when I mention how desperately my former employer needs an HR department. Lacking any kind of oversight, the Dentrassi in senior management have gone completely wild, and the whole company's devolved into sort of a Lord of the Flies situation.

Yesterday, one of my two new-hire cohorts and I had to retake the Cultural Diversity portion of New Employee Orientation because, according to HR, we failed to sign the roster for that session when we took it in February. There was a separate roster to sign for each session, seven in all; so it wouldn't have been too surprising if one of us had missed it; but both? My cohort was certain that he signed everything, and assured me that I signed everything that he did.

Our boss asked if we really needed to attend this session again and received a slightly snotty reply from the training facilitator. "I'm sorry," she wrote, "but we did make it clear at the beginning of the training that there would be seven rosters for them to sign. They can sit in on the next session to receive credit."

We sent out emails to two people we remembered from our class. One was a lady who kept trying to participate and answer questions, but wasn't quite tech-savvy enough to figure out you have to unmute the room's system before your microphone button will work. Every time she tried to answer a question, the camera would zoom over to her, and you'd see her there glowering, moving her lips at her silent microphone.

I kept picturing her trying to answer our email, pushing the wrong buttons and getting frustrated. But maybe that's uncharitable. She works in the Internet division of IT, by the way.

So we sat, once more, through the session on why it's important to accept and appreciate diversity in the workplace, including an enlightening short film entitled "Diversity Diner." I laughed when the facilitator announced it.

"Elizabeth is laughing," she said, smiling, to our classroom and all the remote offices participating by videoconference. "Why are you laughing?"

"I'm laughing with joy that I get to see this movie again," I said.

When we got back to our desks, I'd received a reply email from the other person we remembered in our class, a guy who works in IT. "Thanks for contacting me," he wrote. "I'm SURE I remember signing that roster, but they have me as a no-show too. I thought I was going crazy."

I'm thinking they just lost the roster for that session. It'd be nice if they admitted they had done so and apologetically informed the participants that they'd have to retake it in order to fulfill the Federal requirement for this training, rather than implying that we're stupid twits who can't even figure out how to sign a piece of paper.

Silly me. Vogons never apologize!

Monday, March 20, 2006

When Irish Eyes are Bloodshot

Okay, that's it. I'm emailing my Celtic fiddler friend and asking her if she knows any groups on the lookout for an Ornamental Female Vocalist.

My brother-in-law, who does open mike nights on a regular basis, got invited to perform at a St. Patrick's Day weekend festival at La Villita in San Antonio last night. Not one to let a complete lack of knowledge of Gaelic music stop him, he recruited my husband and a couple of musician friends, printed out the lyrics to a bunch of Irish standards from online, and whipped up a few arrangements. They called themselves the Irish Pirates, wore eyepatches and bandanas, drank heavily, and belted out a set that'll leave Danny Boy walking funny for a week.

Thank God the audience had a great sense of humor. When my husband first told me what the group was planning to do, I thought for sure they were going to get lynched.

So it was before this gentle and good-humored - and, possibly, not entirely sober - audience that I made my Celtic song debut. I kind of sucked. I really wanted to do a song but I didn't want to do a song but I wanted the guys to want me to do a song so I could tell them no but I wanted them to press me into it but they didn't try to talk me into it which means nobody appreciates me and I was so mad and...

I think all that red meat I ate in San Angelo turbo-charged my PMS.

So with all that fretful dilly-dallying, I ended up not rehearsing and deciding I wouldn't sing, but the next band on was late arriving and my guys were out of material, so I stepped up to the mike and tremblingly let out a few verses of this Scottish neo-traditional song.

Damn it. I can do better. I want another try! Next time I'll eat salads for a week first.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

What's for Dinner?

God, I feel so bloated. This whole San Angelo trip pretty much centered around where we were going to eat next. Hotel breakfast buffets, fast food lunches, steak dinners, wine, beer, Hornsby's, and margaritas - getting the most bang for your per diem buck is the name of the game. And I haven't gotten any exercise since Tuesday. Gnuh! No wonder I'm depressed.

Yesterday, on the drive back from San Angelo (they did let me drive! yay!) we stopped for lunch in Llano (luncheon in Llano is simply divine, dahling) at the Hungry Hunter buffet restaurant. A banner underneath the sign stated, "Hunters Welcome!" Because, you know, otherwise you might not have been sure.

We actually only stopped there because the places we preferred didn't accept credit cards. Our Official State Vehicle™ was the only non-pickup in the parking lot. I'm not exaggerating. We three city slickers walked in and started on the buffet...

When we left I had to tell my two coworkers the joke that brought itself to mind the second we walked in the door:

Two Aggies are out hunting in the woods when they meet up with a beautiful woman. Right there, out in the middle of nowhere! They can't believe their luck. "Hey, honey," they say to her, "how's about you spend some time with us?"

She shrugs. "I'm game," she says.

So they shoot her.

Unriddled by bullet holes, fortunately, but very very full, we made our way back home. I'm looking forward to resuming my hike-and-bike routine on Monday, but it might be hard to get used to not wolfing down about 7000 calories a day.

As for San Angelo, it was a lovely place to visit and had some quite nice eateries. But I could never live in a town where a restaurant would seriously offer "freedom fries" on the menu.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I Left My Heart in San Angelo

Well, not yet. I'm still here! And when I leave, it seems fairly likely that I'll bring my heart with me.

Here are a few common misconceptions about San Angelo that I'm going to clear up for you. (Read: things that I thought about San Angelo which turn out not to be true.)

1. San Angelo is not in the Hill Country.
2. San Angelo is not quite the most happening night spot ever.
3. San Angelo is not the same thing as San Antonio. (Actually, I never thought it was; however, the hotel where we stayed last night was extensively, and inexplicably, decorated with San Antonio and Riverwalk travel posters. So apparently this was someone's misconception.)
4. San Angelo is not just an hour or so's drive from Austin. Ohohoho no.

Last night we stayed at the San Angelo Inn & Conference Center, near old downtown. It's a former Holiday Inn but did not quite live up to my coworkers' high standards, so we checked out and will be staying tonight at the new Holiday Inn Express. Now that we're here, I quite see their point. There's a computer here with internet, for one thing. And cave-in of the ceiling over the shower in my room seems much, much less imminent, which is always a plus.

I got to drive the Official State Vehicle™ all the way out here, which was great fun. I love driving and road trips, and pretty much any car is nicer than what I'm used to. And of course I don't have to pay for the gas, which is a great bonus.

Last night we went out to eat at Zentner's Daughter, a fairly nice steak place which another cow orker (not along on this trip) recommended highly. It was good. The waitress accidentally switched the doneness orders on my steak and my coworker's. Me, I'm okay with medium well (though I like bloody better), but my coworker got squicked out and had to send his back. Some people are just not as good at orking cows as others.

Then we went to a nice divey bar, where the locals were playing some pretty boffo tunes on the jukebox and the one cow orker and I discovered that the other coworker is a rapacious pool shark, cleverly disguised as a mild-mannered systems analyst.

At breakfast, back at the Holiday Inn on the Dark Side, my pool shark coworker and I were in for a treat: Mr. Exposition was having a Very Important Cell Phone Conversation at the next table. Hello! Does he not know how passé this is? Nobody who's anybody is loudly self-important on a cell phone anymore. That's, like, so 1994. He made lots of jokes for our benefit, and informed his caller that she works with him, that she's sick, and that they have been acquainted for 10 years. He went on and on about how he was having breakfast at a Holiday Inn in San Angelo. I'm sure she was tremendously impressed. (Psst. Buddy. It's not a Holiday Inn anymore.)

We go back tomorrow afternoon. I wonder if they'll still let me drive?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My Little Warholette

Walking out the door on the way to work this morning, I noticed that my four-year-old had expressed herself artistically on the wall, as four-year-olds will do...

Most little kids just use crayons.

Interesting imagery. What do you suppose the double-A batteries represent?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Internet Marketing 101, or Hey - Watch Where You're Pointing That Thing

One of the services my former employer grudgingly provided to its clients was that of researching what terms a target audience of web users are searching for, in order to seed the client website copy with those keywords and and boost the site's placement in search engine results. This is organic marketing, as opposed to pay-per-click or "sponsored" listings.

What's much more fun, though, is just to write about whatever the hell you feel like writing about and see who Google dumps off at your site.

The first search result I ever yielded was for somebody googling on the phone number for a company in Corpus Christi. My blog post about the slim pickings available on the Corpus job market was the only result. That same entry has brought me a lot of traffic from people searching on Futuremarket Telecenter, Inc. with such keywords as "futuremarket telecenter constant phone calls" - sounds like they pissed somebody off! I half expected to get a cease-and-desist from them for a while, but hey - it's not my fault they placed such a moronic ad in the Caller-Times.

Quite a few people, more than you might think, search for "bat poop and mascara." They often end up reading about my wanderings under the Congress Avenue bridge and my ambition to become a sixties sex-romp character. I bet that doesn't answer their question at all.

I had one hit me up while searching for "how to deal with difficult coworkers." I probably wasn't much help. (Beth's Solution: Quit and move to a different city!)

I came up number four or five on a search for "steamy redhead" and was absolutely shocked to see what kind of company I was keeping. Look it up yourself if you don't believe me! (Parents: do not look it up.)

But my favorite so far is someone searching for "make corpus weird," because they almost certainly must have been looking for me - a first!

Were you looking for me? And are you glad you found me?

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Ooh! Ooooohhhhh! Paint me purple and call me Jehoshaphat!! Guess who I just met!!!?!?!?!?!!

I just actually met Sam Hurt, the cartoonist who drew Eyebeam and later its spinoff, Queen of the Universe (starring Ratliff's niece, Peaches).

It's possible that a few people outside Austin - and maybe even two or three inside the city limits - have not heard of these strips. Eyebeam ran in The Daily Texan during the years I was at UT, the mid-to-late eighties; and even from an aughties perspective it's still magnificently surreal. In the eighties, of course, it was WAYHAYHAY the hell out there. Hank the Hallucination was elected President of the UT Student Government Association on the strength of the strip's surreality, y'all. Those were heady times - it was kind of an uprising against the constraints of Reagan-era reality.

I had heard that Sam Hurt was a Travis Heights resident, years ago. Turns out he lives right across the street from our apartment complex and rents studio/office space here. I had assumed he was something along the lines of a lawyer, since I had the impression Eyebeam was a somewhat autobiographical character, and was in law school and a newly fledged attorney back when I was reading the strip every day.

Actually, as I was reading it in my late teens and very early twenties, the strip had a tremendous influence on my adult sense of humor. You know how you have lifetime running jokes? I sing "My eyes are still curly and my hair is still blue" from time to time; or like Beth, the quintessential bowhead, perusing a bridal magazine while Sally exasperatedly informs her that not every woman just wants to find a husband, I'll sometimes say, "You know, if you don't speak English, I'm not going to be able to understand you."

Tonight he was swimming in the apartment complex pool while my husband and I were drinking beer down on the patio. My son, who's into striking up conversations with strangers, introduced himself and then us. I was cool and collected and didn't talk much. "Oh yeah," I said, "we've read your strip." We chatted for a while and then he left. Not until he was gone did I jump up and down and make squeaky noises and fan myself with my hands. Yay for self-control!

Of course, if he's at all in the habit of googling for his name or references to his strips, my secret is out, now isn't it?

Sam Hurt! Huzzah!! Zowie kablowie!!!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Time Warner Cable Can Bite My Ass

Let's not mince words here.

Just got finished ordering cable service. What an abysmally sucky experience. They have a web site with various a la carte and package options, but they only list some of the prices; nor can you just call them - you have to input your phone number and have them call you. Not that it really makes that much of a difference, it's just weird, and throws you slightly off balance.

That's probably exactly the effect they're going for.

So I call them - I mean, have them call me - to ask some questions about pricing, packages, and specials, get quoted some numbers, say thank you, no, I'm not ready to order just yet, no, really, I'm not, thank you, and get off the phone again.

My family and I discuss amongst ourselves. The information I've gathered has only confused us further. Finally we agree on what to get, just to keep from talking about it any more, and I call them - I mean, have them call me - to place the order.

But wait. Now I'm talking to a different person, and the costs she's quoting me bear no resemblance whatsoever to the costs I was quoted by the first person I called. I mean, who called me.

Long story short (too late!), I am so overcome with bewilderment and humiliation that I just agree to whatever Caller #2 says I have to pay. I think I might have signed over my firstborn. But I'm okay with this. Maybe they can get him to do his homework.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Tenet #547 of Office Etiquette: Overhearing what is said on the other side of a cubicle wall, no matter how audible, is simply Not Done. At my last job, my office mate and I used to peep surreptitiously down the hall, close the door, and discuss our Deep Dark Secrets in whispers.

Not the Head Honcho, but the #2 guy (the Neck Honcho?) visited our division today. You'd think we were having the Queen Mother to tea. Preparatory staff meetings have been held for over a week. Emails have been sent out. We were instructed to dress nicely, to do a particularly good job of cleaning our work areas, to look nice and busy, and to be prepared to explain what it is, exactly, that we do around here.

Shortly before his arrival, I decided to empty all the chads out of the three-hole punch (which is at least forty years old - its brand name is "Improved Hummer," which always makes me schnork with suppressed hilarity). On the way from my desk to my recycling can, the bottom fell off. Tiny round pieces of confetti went everywhere. I promptly dissolved into laughter; but the coworker who was making the rounds of the floor to make sure everything was tidy was not amused. Chastened, I swept them all up. This was no joking matter.

#2 ultimately did not make it to my cube, but our section director did introduce two of my cohorts to his attention. They chatted very briefly and then moved on. The woman on the other side of the cubicle partition from me was absolutely livid. She simply couldn't believe that she and her people got passed up in favor of a couple of people in my department. You'd think the section director had run over her dog. I was a little shocked at how upset she, and the other lady she was talking to, were.

Girls. He's just a Neck Honcho. Get over it.

How great a violation of workplace etiquette will it be if I discuss this with my departmental cohorts at break tomorrow? How about if I just blog about it and casually give them the link?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Departure from Mommyblogging

Here you go, for those of you who complain that I never blog about politics (you know who you are):

Shoot the bird, Dick! The bird! No, not the lawy - DICK!!!!!!!

Yeah, I know, it's about a politician and not about politics. So sue me. Or give me a job at CNN.

Hug a Highway Today

Do you ever stop to think about the roads you drive on? I mean, really think about them?

If so, I'm the one in the car behind you, honking.

I've spent the last several days at work studying highway construction plans, from which part of my job is to extract data for the statewide roads database. And I'm here to tell you, by golly, a fair bit of planning goes into road-building. I never really thought about it before. I mean, I could figure that bridges, overpasses, etc. take some fairly serious engineering, but I guess deep down I just assumed that road crews sort of randomly showed up and paved a promising-looking stretch of landscape between two points.

Not so, although I think anyone who's had to deal with Austin traffic in a construction zone can be forgiven for having that impression.

These things are laid out to the inch (or centimeter, depending on the date and the contracted civil engineering firm). It's all there: specs for lane and roadbed width, baseline bearings, points of curvature and of tangent, pavement depth, composition and strata, signage, traffic signals, medians and curbs, landscaping, drainage, striping, and so on and so on and so on and so on and so on. It makes sense, of course, that it would be so. People like me, whose idea of construction is to schlep something together and hope it comes out right (which it doesn't always - like the time I made my baby son a gown for Renaissance Festival and forgot to leave holes for his arms) are amazed, and frankly a little turned off, by such a level of detailed planning. Doesn't leave a lot of room for hope or excitement or happy surprises, does it?

It's probably for the best that I never went into engineering.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dressed for Success

Work-appropriate attire is not quite the same thing at a stodgy government agency as it is at a trendy private-sector marketing company, is it?

This morning I was sent to a mandatory safety awareness session at another campus. Normally three or four people from a few different departments attend these, but today only the hosting department was in attendance, so it felt kind of as if I were crashing their staff meeting. Their department handles construction site inspections.

I unsuspectingly sashayed my vanilla-brown-sugar-scented, short-skirt-clad, toe-ring-and-anklet-bedecked self into the meeting room - and froze. Fifteen grizzled construction worker heads swiveled to stare at me. A hush fell.

Their kind and my kind are enemies in the wild.

At lunchtime, carrying my soup back from the microwave to my desk, I nearly collided with a man I don't know, who works on my floor. We laughed and excused ourselves politely, and I went back to my cube about twenty feet away.

"Always getting into trouble, bumping into girls!" joked another man in the kitchenette as I got back to my desk. They proceeded to banter back and forth briefly about how it's nice to bump into pretty girls, but you gotta just look, etc. I thought about standing up and clearing my throat and saying, "You know, I'm right here..."

Maybe I should demand a raise so I can buy a new wardrobe.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I Got Your Evangelism Right Here

One day, about a year and a half ago, before most of my friends had quit or been fired, when I could still take a break for lunch, I was walking along the Bayfront in Corpus Christi. It was a beautiful day, I did not yet hate my job, and life, you know, was not so bad.

Near the T-heads I was approached by a couple of guys with pamphlets. "Would you like to hear about the Lord?" one asked me, proferring a tract.

Talk about a loaded question.

I was pretty clearly out for exercise - in a T-shirt, shorts and walking shoes, with my hair pulled back in a ponytail, and sweating like a pig - excuse me, I mean glowing in a most exuberantly ladylike fashion - so even if I did want to hear about the Lord, I really didn't want to be carrying some fruitcake piece of paper around. I smiled and shook my head and said, "No, thanks."

The guy followed after me. "Take it," he said. "Take it!"

"I don't have any pockets," I responded with some annoyance, quickening my pace and walking away from him.

"I'm trying to tell you about your Savior!" he yelled angrily after me. "JESUS CHRIST!!!"

You expect that sort of thing to happen in Corpus, with the oddly worded religious billboards on all the fences, the Christian feature in top position on the front page of the Caller-Times every Sunday (really!), and the enormous, creepy Jesus-of-the-Sea statue looming ominously over Ocean Drive.

You don't, however, really expect that sort of thing to happen at First Thursday on South Congress in Austin.

A representative of Capitol City Baptist Church, however, was kind enough to press a pamphlet on my 13-year-old daughter Thursday evening. "Please do not resent us for giving you this tract," it reads. "We love your soul, and we want to tell you, if you have never been born again, you are on your journey to a place where you will burn forever and ever."

Nice message for the kiddos, isn't it?

Good Lord. I've just spent several minutes trying to find their web site to post the link (and apparently they once had one but no longer do) and I guess I should count myself lucky they only threatened her.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Name That Plant

Actually he already has a name: Spikey. Anna named him. He's a crack weed from Corpus Christi (he was growing in between the driveway and the slab). I dug him up, potted him, and brought him to Austin because Anna missed him.

The top half of him is doing quite well and he's growing like a... well, you know.

So I'm wondering, does anybody know what Spikey actually is?

On a side note, did you know that the gravel on the Town Lake hike-and-bike is pink granite? I just noticed that yesterday.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Look Out, West Central Texas

I'm going to hit the road. My first business trip at the new job is coming up!

Business trips are the best - not that I've ever had to do too many. I did have back-to-back trips to Phoenix and then Cancun, keeping me away from home for two weeks, when I was 9-10 weeks preggo with Anna. I was pretty glad to come home, not least because in my condition, the trays of free fruity umbrella drinks being waltzed back and forth under my nose at conference functions every night were like torture. Could my timing have been any worse?

It could, actually. While working at the same job, I got a spectacular offer to go on an all-expenses-paid fam trip to Geneva. I've never been overseas, have always dreamed of going, and this trip was just made-to-order for me. The departure was scheduled for three days before my due date.

I should've gone anyway, and just told them I was an international watermelon smuggler. It could have worked.

This upcoming trip is just to San Angelo; but hey, it's somewhere I've never been, and it has three important things going for it:

1) KUT has a satellite station there.
2) Somewheres around in there is the hometown of a crazy boy I once knew, who made me feel like a goddess and compared me to Mark Twain. (Isn't that romantic? I'm assuming he was saying I'm funny, not hinting that I really needed to Nair the ol' girl-stache.)
3) I'm not knocked up.

So bring on the fruity umbrella drinks! If I down enough of them, I might be able to convince myself I'm in Switzerland.