Sunday, January 13, 2008

Differing Points of View

If you're walking through Stacy Park, and you see a guy with a backpack sitting on a bench a ways ahead of you on the trail, writing in a notebook, and as you get closer you notice that he's also writing on a piece of cardboard, and as you are passing by you see out of the corner of your eye that his left hand and arm are likewise covered with writing, and he speaks up, saying, "Hey, do you want to hear something interesting?"

You might want to just keep walking.

Though if you do, you'll miss out on a great deal of information. Electrical utility boxes, did you know, are full of nitrogen, because this can be used to bring up the groundwater and throw off a perc test, which is performed up north prior to construction to determine if a basement will be prone to flooding. Also, there is apparently a conspiracy of realtors to accelerate sales by poisoning all the trees to bring down housing values. Did you know that for each tree that dies on a piece of property, the value of that property goes down by $10-20K? So if a $250,000 house has five trees on its lot, and you sneak up and kill off those trees, you may end up actually being able to buy that house for $150,000; or presumably you could get a $100,000 house for free. "Look at that house across the street, there, being remodeled," he said, pointing to a larval McMansion on Eastside Drive, cocooned in Tyvek. "See how all the trees in the yard are dead? I'm seeing trees like that all over town!"

I wasn't asking a lot of questions, and I also didn't know if it would be a good idea to point out, as he went on at great length about how many dead trees seem to be about lately, that it's winter.

Various aspects of his speech brought him to the subject of the airport; of Watertown, New York; of downtown Austin and Treaty Oak; of the water quality here; of leaning telephone poles; of the crack-dealing and money-laundering operations of police officers (or possibly realtors - I wasn't quite clear on this) in South Austin; of churches and gas stations; of geology; of the racial segregation of neighborhoods; and of the Del Valle schools. At Travis High, you see, the school sits in the midst of businesses, so the students are able to learn about commerce and enterprise. But Del Valle High School has been moved - ostensibly due to the airport, but they're still in the flightpath! They're still in the flightpath! - way out in the middle of nowhere, and there are no businesses nearby, so the kids will never learn about the real world, and what's more important, anyway - the life of a child, just starting out, or the life of some FedEx employee?

Here he stopped and pressed for an actual answer, so I stammered that I didn't feel I could really assign a comparative value to the lives of complete strangers. "Exactly!" he said, very pleased. Apparently I had just made his point for him.

Finally it became clear that he was going to keep on talking just as long as I kept on standing there, and my iPod had already cycled through "Rock the Casbah" twice, so I said, "I really have to go..."

"Take it easy," he said, immediately sitting down and resuming writing in his notebook. I felt kind of silly. I could have walked away twenty minutes earlier.

I was really only out to try and send a picture from my cell phone, which doesn't work very well at my house (probably a realtors' conspiracy of some kind). At my brother-in-law's Elvis' birthday party last night, we got a very cute picture of the newly blonde Katie and me, and I want to send it to people. I haven't been able to figure any way to get it out of my phone, because attempting to send it as a message keeps failing. So I walked up Travis Heights Blvd. to the highest point and stood there, holding my phone aloft and turning slowly in circles, right there in the street, trying to get a good signal, but accomplished nothing.

Nothing except for all the neighbors to glance out their windows, witness this bizarre behavior, and go and lock their doors. Look out! There's a crazy person loose in Travis Heights!

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At January 15, 2008 10:08 PM, Anonymous Mariana said...

Brilliant. Thank you. I just flew into Austin for a 2-day Real Estate training ... What a perfect and timely read!

At January 15, 2008 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol I love Austin...

At January 16, 2008 7:20 AM, Anonymous Ann Cummings said...

And to think about all the things to be learned from stopping just a moment, or several to get through "Rock the Casbah".... I didn't realize that's what was happening to all those trees. For shame..... and sabotaging perc tests. What might be next, I wonder???

At January 16, 2008 9:46 PM, Anonymous billy joe said...

To get a photo off your Razr, open the photo and select "move" from the menu. Then you choose to "move" it via bluetooth or emailing it. It's weird, I know, but hey, they can't all be iPhones.

At January 17, 2008 8:10 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Silly Billy! I do know how to send a photo file, have done it before with no problem. Recently it's just not working - the send fails every time, no matter how good a signal I'm getting. I did bluetooth it to a friend's phone and send it from his, but it's all squished and green now.

I will admit that would probably not happen with an iPhone. :P

At January 17, 2008 10:18 PM, Blogger Timothy said...

The Cell Phone Photo Conspiracy is what we all call it. There IS no way to get them off your phone, until you are forced to slowly delete them, 1 by 1, choosing between the pic of the cute dog on the beach and your niece's 4th birthday party. I have 3 phones in picture frames. It's all a scam to make you buy a new phone that can hold more photos....


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