Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chicago vs. Seattle and a trip west

Welcome to Chicago, Seahawks, and please don't let the door hit you in the ass. The Seahwaks had been having a bad season on the road but coming up against the oh-so-sackable Jay Cutler (six times), they managed to win. Devin Hester ran a zillion yards at the two-minute mark to get us so very close to a tie (and then on to overtime) but, alas, the Seahawks out performed the Bears, 23-20. BEARS OFFENSIVE LINE: What the heck are you doing? COVER YOUR QB! I am no fan of Mr. Cutler but dang, dang, and double dang (quadruple dang in total), keep the other team off your QB. Stop thinking about lunch, birds, girls, dinner, the color of carpeting in your house, and snacking. GUARD YOUR QB! The other team is looking to prance around you and knock down the QB, or smack the ball away, or yank it from his hands, or crash into him like they are the evening express to Downers Grove and he is a poor wrong-place-wrong-time deer. See how that works? Guard your QB! While football is a teenage-girl pillow fight compared to other sports, you know the QB has the ball and you know the other (large) men in the defensive line want that ball, so stop them from getting to the QB. Yeah, yeah, gain yardage but you can't gain an inch if the QB no longer has possession of the ball. How can he get the ball to the bitch (yeah, yeah, wide receiver) if he doesn't have the ball?

On a side note, I was not despondent after this week's loss because of Hester's masterful touchdown run and realized I am finally -- FINALLY -- getting into the mindset of "it's a game to be played poorly or well." There were elements of both and I didn't take the loss personally.

I made the giant mistake of watching some of the pre-game show on Fox with Terry! Michael! Howie! An older guy! And another guy who is well groomed! Bla bla bla stats and hats and stats and cats and stats and rats in flats on mats. Stats don't matter before the game, gents, and predict nothing. Stats are for after or for comparisons. Stats are for guys in bars when the dick measuring contest needs to be subtle ("For Chubby Guys Who Have Considered Dick Measuring When the Statistics Aren't Enough," soon to be a major motion picture starring Kevin James and The Actor Formerly Known As Drew Carey) or in the hallway at work, trying to impress guys who don't know you very well. Blabbing about stats just proves you know stats, that your prediction has as much value as my prediction, and that Howie Long likes looking in the camera way too much. That last part has nothing to do with actual football stats, but statistically speaking, the chance of him not glancing toward the camera to see if it's on him is slight. What's Howie thinking? "Is it on me? Now? Is it on me now? Now? How 'bout now?" No, Howie, it's not. We are also not there yet, just in case there's a car trip in our future. The Stats-en-jammer Kids so aggravated me that I opted to listen to the first half of game in my car while also going to Jewel-Osco and Target, where I scored black mascara.

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Thanks to the stanky economy, it had been a long time since I'd made reservations for air, hotel, and car all for me, got some fine travel insurance, and went to the airport for a trip out of town. It had been even longer since I'd gone on my own so it was, therefore, quite the occasion. My destination was Austin, Texas.

Highlights of my fave things:

LBJ Library Isn't it funny? I thought this would be of marginal interest but it was fascinating and well worth the time I spent there. Plus, for the frugal among us, it is free and parking is free (but make sure you are in the correct LBJ Library parking lot).

The Bats The largest urban bat colony in the world lives under the southern end of the Congress Street Bridge. There are hundreds of thousands of Mexican freetail bats and every night at dusk, they head out to eat insects. I watched from the park on the side of the bridge (across the Colorado River) and the thing that impressed me most is (1) the bats really do have a smell all their own when they take to the skies and (2) it is hard to see anything when it is almost dark (but you can hear the flapping wings and there is that aforementioned stank) so (3) maybe next time watch it from the bridge. Plus, for the frugal among us, it is free but parking is free-opposite.

Road from San Marcos to Johnson City Yeah, yeah, I went to San Marcos and scored underpants (I had a stellar coupon) and a handbag (60% off) at the Prime Outlet. I got directions and a very good Texas map from the San Marcos Tourist Information Center. The route they suggested was fantastic (there was a major discussion about the best way but they all agreed this was the most scenic). It wound through Texas Hill Country and the views were wonderful. After about 30 minutes of this, I realized I was smiling because what I was seeing was making me so happy. I later found out this particular stretch of road from San Marcos is called the Devil's Backbone. From I35, take 12 west to 32 west. That is where you will get the best views. The road winds so don't have some adult beverages before you start driving. There are not a lot of scenic overlooks, so be prepared to pull over to the side of the road to enjoy this lovely place on earth. (Continue on 32 west to 281 north to 290 west to get to Johnson City.)

Original Texas White House
The LBJ Ranch and the Texas White House A joint venture of the Texas State Parks and National Park Service, visiting the ranch is, for the frugal among us, free. At the state park, you are given the free loan of a CD that details what you are seeing as you drive (yes, you can stop along the way at designated points). The tour of the Texas White House is USD2. Per the agreement made with the Johnson Family when they acquired this 650 acres, it's a working ranch and there is a good chance of some large beef animal wandering on the road which totally adds to the charm. Splurge on the tour because only then can you see the lovely views of the Pedernales River from the front porch of the house. The park ranger offered info I'd never heard before -- like LBJ's favorite music was Muzak/elevator music and that is what was played on KLBJ, the radio station the Johnsons owned (now Austin's premier heavy metal station).

Texas State Capitol and University of Texas campus The Capitol is huge. It is historical. The tours are free. The campus is a few blocks north and is huge. Walk from one to the other and back again. If the Tower at UT is open when you visit (being renovated when I was there), remember that you can bring ONLY a camera up there. Anything else has to be left in a locker at ground level. (It reminds me of visiting Mao's tomb in Beijing except there you can bring nothing in your hands. And when leaving, there is the most wonderful view of two temples from a vantage point you get only there. Where is your camera? Across the street, all checked in. They don't want you to take pictures. UT sensibly doesn't want you to take potshots, thanks very much.)

My bottom line is this: I really enjoyed my Texas trip. Austin has a lot of traffic (a lot lot lot lot lot for a city of that size) but the people are genuinely nice. Public transportation is woefully lacking-to-nonexistant. (If [insert fave deity here] had intended us to pay attention 100% of the time on the way to work, s/he would not have invented iPod movies, magazines, and books.) Texas Hill Country is every bit as pretty as I'd heard if not more so. Finally, the new Nissan Sentra I rented made my 1998 Honda Civic seem like a piece of crap that probably needs a brake job.

The Texas Book Fair was going on the weekend I was leaving and who should I see in the airport? Laura Bush and her daughter, Barbara. What struck me about them is that they did not seem to carry handbags. How the heck do they get away with that?

Laura and Barbara Haiku
Where are your purses?
What about tampons or combs?
Don't you need money?

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