Friday, February 29, 2008

dance halls and dead bodies

This morning we slept in, and Linda made me pancakes! After a mellow morning, we headed to San Antonio to the Witte Museum's "Our Body: the Universe Within" exhibition. About 20 full bodies and 200 body parts are on display; all "plastinated" so they can actually be dissected and frozen into place. Apparently there are three of these floating about the country, so it's kind of goofy that I saw one here while a different one is also on display in Milwaukee. Really, REALLY fascinating stuff.

We stopped for fish tacos (hooray!!) on the way back, rested a bit, and I went for a ramble - missed the park I was aiming for and ended up exploring most of Texas! Then Linda, Linda's husband Bill, and their grandson Clayton and I headed to Gruene. Gruene (pronounced "green") Texas has been "gently resisting change since 1872". It boasts the oldest dance hall in Texas, a general store, and a bunch of other antiquey/artisan-y and tourist-type shops. Very fun. We went to the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar and had fantastic food. I finally got some good ribs - which I sort of felt Texas owed me. All in all, lovely time, lovely food, lovely people! Linda and Bill kept telling me about all the awesome stuff I'm missing and that I have to come back and experience.

Tomrrow? Opening day of Sea World! Zah hoo! And then Sunday I head home, where I hope they've still saved a tad of snow for me to get a few more good skis in before the trees start blooming!

More pictures posted to this album.

the Alamo and the Spurs

For the afternoon I wandered around the Alamo. Beautiful grounds, and there was a speaker giving a presentation to 4th graders about the siege of the Alamo. Learned a ton! And they have beautiful plants and shrubs about - I took some pics earlier, but didn't have my camera with me during the afternoon.

Deanna's cousin Linda picked me up around 6 and we headed of to the Spurs game!! Hurray for an outstanding game happening when you happen to be there!! This is a (very far off!) picture of Timmy at the line.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

phoon III

Bother. Patrick had phooned marvelously - still can't figure out how he got a picture of it! - some time ago and I completely spaced posting it. Just ran across it now, and figured it was time. Some people sure know how to make other peoples' day.

Phoon thread

Heaps o' phoons on Flickr

oh yes and a wee update

SA continues to be fun and interesting, by the way. A restaurant yesterday really tanked - I tried ordering ribs and they were horrible (thought things like that weren't supposed to happen in Texas). It's my own dumb fault for going to a chain, I suppose, but there was a group of people going there, and - me being me and all - I rated company over food selection. Happened again tonight as a matter-of-fact. They all wanted to go to Mexican - which we had just had for lunch. I compensated by getting something without cheese: baby goat! Yep, I tried it. And really liked it actually, though it was a lot of work (like lamb can be). It sounds so horrible to say "baby goat" that I got to thinking about why we see lamb and veal on menus, but they don't list goat as.... (and, the light goes on!)

I've also explored a few different bits of the Riverwalk. Thumbs still up! I like how it's all "below" - kind of like the Atlanta underground, or Seattle or something - and yet open air and with those crazy pigeony things and great masonry and bridges. It's been great fun to be here long enough to really take things in.

techknowledge conference

OK, it's really feeling impossible to be at a conference about technology and learning all week and not share something about all I've learned. So I won't get into details, but these are cool things I have picked up.

"Wikis in Plain English"
"Blogs in Plain English"
(these are very cool, even if you already happen to be one of the favored few who knows what both of those things are).

And then, did you know:
  • you can text Google, and receive instant text back for phone numbers & other info? (MUCH cheaper than spending $2 a call for dialing 411!). Try it! Text to Googl (e not required if you're lazy: the numbers 46645):
    • pizza 54911 [phone number, address]
    • amzn [to get the stock price]
    • ua115 [airline/flight number]
    • weather paris
    • 54911 to chicago [directions]
    • define schadenfreude [to settle Scrabble arguments]
  • you can go to and have all your numbers and voice mails sent seamlessly to one number - and even switch between them mid-call? I know we can't get YouTube at work, so again, check this one out at home: (it's hilarious!)
  • you can have voice mail messages converted to text automatically (MUCH better than trying to take notes on what was said - and you can sort through them and choose which to read first)
    • (paid)
    • (free)
(I haven't tried any of these myself yet, so play at your own risk!) :) These are all from a talk by David Pogue of the New York Times.

I'll be curious about what you think!

Monday, February 25, 2008

to pray

And on a completely different note: your thoughts and prayers for some friends who are struggling would be greatly appreciated right now:
- my friend Jen slipped a disk in her back a few weeks ago and is still recovering; she's also got permanent knee issues that affect her doing things she's always loved to do, like run.
- my friend Katie's grandma is dying of cancer (she's an awesome woman and I already miss her - how much harder it is for the family)
- my friend Tracy is having weird health issues that are affecting her significantly
- Grant and Jen (bro/sis-in law) are heading toward divorce - very rough on the whole family.

Thank you....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lone Star State musings

So, from everything I can tell, there really is a place called Texas. I had to fly a long time to get here, a few people have drawl-y accents and cowboy hats (yee haw!), lots of service-people about (SA has FOUR army bases), and there's a lone star painted or embedded in cement everywhere you go! (And Deanna, you were right about the men here - they're very, uh, notice-y!)

I left Appleton in the swirling storm of a LMS go-live, so I've been spending every spare moment trying to support that from afar. But I've also taken the time to be at the conference and to get to know the people attending the conference. Learning lots of cool stuff, the go-live is going well overall, and I should be able to ease off shortly a tad and enjoy myself here a bit more. I have NOT held back on enjoying the food, and the Riverwalk is a sweet, sweet place.

I went for a ramble last evening after the conference (the concierge gave me a safe route to run), and it was great to see a smidgen more of the town. I found some coolio things and captured them with my cell phone, but I can't figure out how to upload the pics! If I get 'em, I'll post 'em.

- don't palm trees always seem unfinished somehow? (it hadn't occurred to me before, but there are palm trees in Texas. If it really is Texas.).
- I flew here from Kansas City in the seat next to a border guard who was first grouchy with me for the size of my laptop case. But then we got to talking about the whole immigration deal, and I think he had some great thoughts I hadn't considered before - I'll post more about that if anyone's interested. He really likes how Colorado is handling the issue.
- there are these pigeon-y creatures here that are most like the Tui of New Zealand as anything I would have imagined finding in the 'States (if that indeed is where I am). They make very tonal cooings and calls. Must investigate further.
- it hit 90 degrees here. Today. 'Tho tomorrow it's supposed to cool off and be in the 60s.
- I have yet to try brisket, though I believe my friend Terry would be proud of me if I did. I have, however, had the best steak in my life, the best Mexican ever (enchiladas with mole sauce!), and crab cakes. Have yet to try goat, but really can't promise that will happen. Seeing the brisket on menus here really has me half convinced that I am amusing myself in the Lone Star State after all!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

BOW and scrape!

One day Jen and Joce and their friend Angela headed up north to Become Outdoorswomen. And that's what they did. After all, if a woman can winter camp/scrape herself out sleeping quarters from a snow bank, use a map & compass to find her way from one end of a parking lot to another, dogsled, skijor, and cook in a Dutch oven, what would you call her?!

Jen - a friend from Appleton who now lives with her hubby in Minneapolis area, and Joce - my college roommate - are fabulous people. Spending a weekend with them - in the context of such fun and interesting and DIFFERENT stuff, was just good ol' fashioned plain ol' northwoods fun. Can't say how well we'd (or at any rate I'd) do at any of those things without lots of coaching and help, but gee whiz pop how fun to give them a shot!

Pics | BOW