SnoVID Anniversary

I just got back from my daily walk. It’s not been daily for several weeks now due to Meniere’s symptoms triggered by a cedar allergy, but it’s a daily walk in an aspirational sense. I’m coming in from my more than aspirational daily walk today and it’s sleeting on me and the dog all the way back home. This is not a good sign.

We are about to hit the one year anniversary of SnoVID. On February 15th, 2021 at about 2:00 am, the power went off in Texas. It went off and stayed off across the entire ERCOT grid for more than a day. Here in Austin where I live the power was off for five days. I detail those events here:

A year later, as the snows fall again, we residents of Texas have to cross our fingers and hope that the electric service providers have done the job they said they would do thirty years ago. Done their job and weatherized all the parts of the electric grid that failed last year. We have to cross our fingers on the subject because the Texas Republican lead state legislature and Governor Abbott failed to do anything substantial in the way of mandating that ERCOT and the public utility commission do the jobs they should have done the first time the power went off in Texas.

The SnoVID event was just the latest in a several decades-long festival of kicking the can down the road for the next group of Texas leaders to deal with. I have no hope that Abbott or his flock or Trumpist cohorts in the legislature are any different than their predecessors in office, so I will resign myself to camping next to a fire in the fireplace again this year, just as I did last year. The prospect doesn’t alarm me because I have the lessons I learned from my Uncle Roge to lend me strength in times like these.

Uncle Roge was my Great Uncle Roger Heim, the brother of Dorothy Heim/Steele my Grandmother, but he was Uncle Roge to everybody even people who weren’t related to him. He had a farm somewhere between Marienthal and Modoc, just off the highway between Leoti and Scott City, Kansas. He was close enough to home to be a regular visitor in Grandmother’s house, a face I grew to know and love along with the rest of the people that entered our little family circle in Leoti.

He was a hard man to love. Stoic. Gruff. Reserved. I’ve met a lot of old farmers over the years, most of them were a lot like my Uncle Roge. They know what they know, and you’d best not argue with them about the things they know because they’d put you in your place if you did. I would have sworn that he was always seventy for the thirty years or so that I encountered him. He always looked the same, old and angry. I was surprised to learn that he had been a child once, but Grandmother swore she’d known him as a child and he was such a sweet boy. I couldn’t picture it, but Grandmother never lied about anything, so I guess he was a sweet boy once. I still can’t picture it.

He had served in World War Two. He never talked about it, like most vets, but it was a thing that was known about him. There were deep reserves of strength behind those eyes. You could see them if you held his gaze.

He was one of the senior members of the Leoti Gun Club or Wichita County Gun Club or whatever it was called back then. Dad was a member too, as were most of the men who lived in town at the time. Shooting was one of the few things to do in small town Kansas; and if you were going to go out and shoot things it was better if you knew where to point the gun and what to pull the trigger on. That was why the Gun Club existed, to train your neighbors on where not to point their guns so that they don’t inadvertently shoot you due to their lack of training.

Uncle Roge was my instructor in firearms safety in more ways than that one. There was always a tale about what happened to somebody’s kid somewhere that Dad would relate to me when I would do something stupid with a gun. Then he would turn to Uncle Roge, the one who had caught me doing the stupid thing, and ask him to confirm the story. Roge would say “yeah, that’s right” and the two of them would laugh and walk off to go find something else to shoot at. Or to not shoot at. Uncle Roge rarely wasted a shot on anything that he couldn’t eat, the occasional coyote being the exception to the rule.

The Gun Club had a hunting spot that they called Twin Buttes somewhere between Eads and Kit Carson, Colorado that they held a lease to hunt Canada Geese on. To call it remote is an understatement. There was another club who had a lease next door and after them there was nobody for about a hundred miles in any direction. There was sporadic electricity on the lease that you could pull to the travel trailers that were mostly permanently parked there. There was no running water, no sewer, no garbage pickup. No civilization of any kind other than the electricity and what the men who occupied the lease brought with them from home.

Uncle Roge would pull his trailer up there early every hunting season so as to get the property ready for the rest of hunters who showed up later. He’d clear the road and fill potholes, cut down the two foot tall weeds that had grown up over the previous year. Basically make the area accessible for the towners who showed up barely capable of getting to an from the site without injuring themselves on a good weekend.

Dad used to joke about how we were living rough when we’d go hunting. We had propane heaters and hurricane lanterns. The pits that we hunted from were concrete lined and had their own space heaters. You’d go out and light them early so that the pit would be warm when you had to go out later to sit in it and wait for the geese to fly over. You didn’t want to rely on the electricity, but there were plenty of beds and down-filled sleeping bags to go around. It was roughing it for a teenager who was used to television during the day, but I was a reader anyway. I hardly missed the TV. I did miss the indoor plumbing.

Uncle Roge went out one year to prepare the lease for occupation and a blizzard blew in while he was there. It dumped several feet of snow all over the area, all the way to Leoti where we were snug and warm. Roge knew that it would be awhile before anyone would be out to get him. Could be weeks before the plows got to the roads that lead to this remote outpost between nowhere and nowhere. So he did what he had to do. He’d go out every morning and shovel snow into a melt bucket and put it in his warm trailer. Then he’d wander out to the pits and shoot something to eat that day. He hadn’t brought much food with him, so he was going to have to live off of whatever it was he killed in the meantime.

When he got back to his trailer and the now-useless power pole that marked our camping spot in the wilderness, he’d clean his kill, start it cooking and melt another bucket of snow. In between these routine tasks required to stay alive, he’d play solitaire dominoes and wait to hear the snowplows. Rinse and repeat, day-in and day-out. They’d get here eventually, the power would get turned back on eventually, the snow would melt eventually. It was all just a matter of time.

It was a whole month later when the snow plows got to the road that lead past the Twin Buttes lease. Uncle Roge was there at the gates to greet the plow drivers as they went past. He was very glad to see them. I imagine he even smiled at them as they drove past. It was probably a soul-lifting event to see him smile; a rare event in any case. He had gotten pretty tired of eating boiled goose and saltines by that point. It was well past time to head into town and see about getting something else to eat for a change.

So when the power goes out in Texas again, as I’m sure it will, I’ll just remember my Uncle Roge and then grin and bear it. At least I have more than boiled goose and saltines to live on for the next month. I have cards and dominoes and opponents to play against instead of having to play solitaire. Hopefully the power will be back on in less than a month. I’m not as good as Uncle Roge at living off the land, but I can give it a try if I have to. I might find out what squirrel tastes like if the power stays off for that long. I guess there is that to look forward to.

Featured image from: gebli.com

These Ideas Can’t Be Fought

I have no patience for defeatism.

There are people who are saying, “I have been speaking up, it doesn’t make a difference.”

Bullshit.

You don’t know if it’s making a difference or not. No pebble ever understands the magnitude of the avalanche.

For decades, the reich-wingers have been shifting the Overton window (the window of normalization) to the right. We have to speak up to shift it back.

We have to speak up for standards of behavior, for intelligence, for rationality, for the weight of evidence, for transparency in government. We have to speak up for empathy and compassion and that the true purpose of government is to serve the people. We have to speak up and speak up and speak up —

Because silence is not only surrender, it is death.

facebook/david.gerrold
Continue reading “These Ideas Can’t Be Fought”

Shop The Block? More Like Force Out Your Neighbors

The title of this piece, a report that I started back in October and published yesterday:

…includes the reference number for business that will be brought before the Austin city council soon. The business? A permit to allow outdoor music two nights a week right in the middle of the Crestview neighborhood. These events have actually been going on illegally for more than a year now, and only recently were permitted retroactively under the little known provisions passed in the summer of 2020 named Shop the Block.

The owner of the Violet Crown Clubhouse is a wealthy transplant to the Austin area. He is purportedly either a paid consultant or an outright employee of the City. He throws fundraisers for councilmember Leslie Pool, the representative for the area that includes the Crestview shopping center where his business is situated. The city has informed us that there is no way to rescind the permit even though nearly every neighbor within hearing distance of the center has asked for the events to stop. Hopefully these facts will be enough to grab media interest in the subject. If you are in the media and want to know more, message me.

facebook, twitter,

Death of a Loved One

I wasn’t going to write on this subject right away. It’s only been a few minutes for me. it’s too fresh, too personal. My children lost their grandfather today. It’s true that he wasn’t a blood relative of my children so not really a grandfather in the strictest sense of the word. He was the Wife’s foster-father, but that never stopped me or her from treating him like family because it never stopped the people who adopted us from treating us like family.

He had developed ALS in the last few years. It had gotten to the stage where he was in a wheelchair most of the time and had lost his fine motor skills. That is what finally got him. I was beginning to think that nothing could kill that old man. He had gotten stents placed back in the dark ages nearly thirty years ago (medicinally, the dark ages compared to now) after a second heart attack and open heart surgery for the first one.

Twenty years a cop before that. He spent some time in undercover work and had stories he could tell about that time if you could pry them out of him. He was a father figure for me when I had given up hope of ever meeting an older man that I could respect. I didn’t meet him until almost too late. Almost.

Now he’s gone and I wasn’t going to write about it. Not today. Maybe in a few days when the emotion is less raw. I wasn’t going to write about it, and then I wander past Stonekettle Station looking at what was current on the blog and the second article from the top was Jim explaining to his readers why he wouldn’t make it to Worldcon this year. His mother-in-law had died from complications of Alzheimer’s after years of care:

At first, in the early stages, you can maybe get a break every few days. They can be left alone in their rooms or in front of the TV for a short while. A friend, a family member, can take the watch for a few hours. But sooner or later, it becomes every minute of every day of every week of every month of every year. You have to be vigilant every moment. You look away, even for second, and an Alzheimer’s patient can hurt themselves, can wander away into the woods or the road, can do something that endangers others and themselves. You don’t get any sleep, because you have to be there, all the time. You can’t even go use the bathroom, because somebody has to be there. You never get any time to yourself. None. 

stonekettle.com

Alzheimer’s took my grandmother from me back in 1996 or so. She lived for four more years after that, dying in 2000, but she had forgotten who I was long before her body stopped working. I couldn’t stomach it. I couldn’t even go visit, and I never saw the reason to. She would simply be bothered by this person she didn’t know and who couldn’t possibly be related to her; and I…? I couldn’t get past the declaration “Oh, you aren’t one of mine.”

I know it was the disease, but the statement laid out so baldly like that just killed me. Yes, Grandma, I’m adopted. To have to go through that every day, every other hour? So I saved us both the trouble and never bothered her again afterwards. I have wondered what it might have been like to try to talk to her again before the end. Mostly I just torment myself with those kinds of questions though. “Oh, you aren’t one of mine.” True enough.

She is free of the pain now. Free of the confusion, the degradation and elimination of self. That is what I tell myself. I wish I could offer better condolences to Jim and his wife, but that is all I have. The marathon is over now. Mercifully. In both cases the marathon is over. We’ll miss them.

Cyrillic Searches

So today I check the website for traffic, just like I always do when I log on the desktop. Usually there isn’t much. In fact, sometimes there is no traffic at all. There are various tools you can install that will track all kinds of website metrics, most of them wasted on a guy who runs a public diary and really doesn’t have anything to sell. WordPress has their own native set of tools, and there are plugins that will duplicate what WordPress does and then some.

You can track articles being read, who goes to the homepage, even the search strings that had hits for your website. Like I said though, usually not much to see. Today was no exception. Pretty low traffic. An astronomical number of attempts to break into the website, like most sites suffer from, but not a lot of readers.

Then I look at search strings that sent people to the website. It is a pretty puzzle sometimes to figure out how a particular string gets you hits on your website. People looking for all kinds of obscure stuff show up as getting hits on the blog articles. Lately there have been a lot of hits for the Die Hard Christmas articles. Well, it is that time of year again. Our Lord John McClain will be gracing the television screens in our home very soon.

Then I notice this character string:

айзек азимов автобиография

Isaac Asimov autobiography? I’ve barely even mentioned Asimov on the blog. He was one of my favorite writers when I first discovered speculative fiction. After I had read all the Hardy Boys pulp that there was to be found back in 1974, I ran across Asimov’s mystery The Caves of Steel. I then went on to read some of his other works like I, Robot and his Foundation series. I’m currently watching the series on Apple TV. I think that the most impactful of his stories though is the short story Nightfall which was later adapted into a novel. I’ve never read his autobiography.

Having run across the search string I just had to look up his autobiographies. It is a three volume set. He wrote the first one at the age of 34. 34? I have some catching up to do. The second one was titled It’s Been a Good Life. The last volume was published near the end of his life and is titled simply I, Asimov. I think that title is fitting, a nice tongue in cheek reference to his most famous (if wholly misunderstood by filmmakers) book. I have some reading to do, I guess.

Approval Ratings

The various media outlets who obsess with metrics have been tearing down President Biden for months now. His metrics are bad, they keep saying. His approval ratings are down. The horror of it all!

To my mind, this is a classic case of mistaking metrics for meaning, mistaking the forest for the trees. Joe Biden is still more popular than Donald Trump was at any point in his Presidency, as this graphic reveals:

projects.fivethirtyeight.com

He’s still more popular than Trump has ever been or ever will be. Yes, that is damning with faint praise. Biden isn’t Clinton or Obama, true. However we aren’t going to get Bill or Hillary Clinton or Barack or Michelle Obama to replace Joe Biden. We aren’t going to get any one of the dozen Democratic opponents that competed with Joe Biden during the primary other than his Vice President, Kamala Harris. That is who we voted for, and that is who we are stuck with, for better or worse.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be up for re-election in three years. The political opposition that has been kept alive since Donald Trump’s trouncing in November of 2020 is still solidly Trumpist in nature. They are denying the reality of the 2020 election and the reality of the continuing pandemic, as well as continuing to deny the existence of climate change.

In the midterm elections next year these pitifully deluded people will stand in opposition to everything that Joe Biden has done, hoping against hope that they can convince the disenchanted to vote for them instead of confirming the course the nation was set on when we elected Joe Biden in 2020. They are doing everything they can to manufacture a political upset in that election. They are rigging the vote in every state that they control and planning on keep people who want to vote Democratic from voting. They are using the system against us, just as they have always done.

I’ve disowned two siblings over the fiasco that is playing out now. I’ve disowned them because we don’t have a choice anymore when it comes to avenues of escape from the pandemic prison we find ourselves in today. Distancing and masking are all we can look forward to until we can convince or restrict the movement of vaccine hold-outs. Those are our choices. Whistling past the graveyard hoping not to catch the virus was never an option, no matter how many morons think that this is an effective way to deal with a pandemic.

I would have preferred different candidates than the two we had to choose from in November. Given the alternative the choice was clear. Given the alternative the choice is still clear. Science first. Reality first. Democracy first. The rest of it follows on from those clear facts.

Not a Democrat

Joe Manchin is not a Democrat. He was elected to the Senate on the Democratic ticket, but he’s not a Democrat or in favor of democracy.

I’ve always said this, Bret, if I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for and I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t,” Manchin, a key centrist, told host Bret Baier on “Fox News Sunday.

nbcnews.com

He talks to FOX news to make this announcement, where it will get to the people he wants to signal to. Republicans. If he was a Democrat he would have talked to media outlets that don’t explicitly serve Trumpists. He wants the Trumpists to know that he’s one of them, a little winking aside to those people he wants to keep on his side.

FOX trumpets that it is the most-watched network on cable television. Who has cable television anymore? Rachel Maddow is leaving MSNBC, not because she has changed her mind about the veracity of the message she delivers, but because she thinks she can reach more people somewhere else. Cable television is dead. Old media. Cable network measurements are like noting the dimensions of dinosaur bones. Important for history, but not really relevant to the here and now.

Joe Manchin is just another one of those dinosaurs. Outdated. Ready for the museum. Only relevant because of the fiction that is party control of the United States Senate. The ossified controls that were placed on that legislative body back in the day when communication across the country took weeks or months have grown constricting and self-defeating in an age where we can know in minutes what the population thinks about any given subject. We just need our paid representatives to do the thing we want, or explain to us why they aren’t doing it. Majority and Minority party leadership in the Senate is as meaningless as the Filibuster, which was a mistake back when Aaron Burr committed it by eliminating the ability to move the prior question. Only now do we understand just how destructive these rules are.

Joe Manchin is against securing the vote for everyone. He doesn’t want the federal government to set down minimal guidelines that guarantee the vote for everyone. The vote is the only way we can effectively communicate with our paid representatives in government other than by bribing them with campaign contributions. He panders to the wealthy who control our government, rather than stand up for the people who should control our government through the vote.

Joe Manchin is against everything the Democrats currently stand for aside from keeping the government functioning. He voted for the extension to the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling shouldn’t even be a thing because it only serves the fiction that the spending of the federal government can be controlled by threatening to guillotine the entire economy through a default on bonds. This is not an effective way to govern, and yet that is what we have been reduced to since the days when Newt Gingrich threw a wrench in the legislative works and did everything he could to keep Bill Clinton from being an effective President.

Joe Manchin wants to keep the government functioning to do…? What? Nothing the Democrats want to do. Consequently Joe Manchin is not a Democrat and thusly the Democrats do not control the Senate, have not controlled the Senate at any point since the 2020 election. Case closed. In 2022 we should send a clear message and put enough Democrats into legislative office that we can get the legislation that we want passed and presented to the President for his signature. That is the only way forward in the short term.

Bucket List?

What do you see in your future?

I have to have hope. I have to have hope for a future, or there is little reason to plan for a future. As everything stands right now; between the pandemic exacerbated by Donald Trump’s incompetence and malfeasance and his zombified supporters still clamoring for more of the same, it has been a little hard to imagine a future that isn’t bounded by the four walls of my house and the daily walks with the dog.

But if we were to suddenly find ourselves able to travel outside of the city, or even inside the city to somewhere that wasn’t a doctor’s office for an appointment, where would I go? What would I want to do, in order to make life worth living just a little bit longer?

I am a notorious hater of all things touristy. I don’t want to get on an over-sized floating hotel and cruise to the tropics, or even fly down to the tropics to sit on a beach. Not my kind of thing at all. I would spend all that time reading, and I can read right here at home just as well as I can read there. Save the travel expenses. Pretend to be gone and do some intense reading alone at home.

There are destinations that I could find the urge to travel to, if travel was a thing that was possible and I could afford it. I would prefer to do my traveling like so many other writers have done. Hiring on as help on a freighter or just taking passage on one and getting off at whatever port suited me and exploring to my heart’s content. Were I still in my twenties and situated the way I am now, I wouldn’t have hesitated to take this route of exploration.

I could easily be dead within a week of leaving port, but that wouldn’t have mattered to twenty-year-old me. I would have enjoyed the extremely short adventure anyway. Since I’m no longer 20 but more like 60 with a family that needs me to survive past next week, I have to surrender to the reality of my physical state and admit that I’m not up to working my way across the ocean anymore, even if I really never was. Maybe the travel would be more like Anita Willets-Burnham chronicles in Round the World on a Penny than it would be like Mark Twain on the one hand or the average cruise ship passenger on the other. Frugal, but safe and expansive.

I have a board on Pinterest where I have posted images of places that have struck an emotional chord with me:

They are from all over the world. When it comes to places I would like to visit, there is far more to see than there is time to see it in. Just the other day I ran across another story of a destination that would be well worth the trip:

A spectacular parade that began after nightfall in Egypt and around lunchtime ET proceeded along the length of the avenue, which is lined on either side by over 600 ram-headed statues and traditional sphinxes, statues with a lion’s body and a human’s head. 

The extravagant march included participants in pharaonic dress, a symphony orchestra, lighting effects, professional dancers, boats on the Nile, horse drawn carriages and more. 

nbcnews.com

Sure the opening event is over, but the trip to see this newly reopened path would be an amazing adventure for the amateur archeologist in me. Egypt is a no-brainer. Yes, tourists go there and there are tourist traps all over the place there. Doesn’t matter. The architecture is what I would go for. The same goes for Rome and Athens or any place that has reasonably intact ruins that beckon to be explored.

I was lamenting the lack of hope in the world today to The Wife recently. How it was going to be a long time before we’d be able to get out of Texas and do the exploring we both want to do. Her response? You won’t do anything touristy so we’d have a hard time going anywhere anyway. I’d suggest sailing with Cunard from the US to Britain, but that would be a touristy thing and you won’t do it. She might swallow her teeth to hear me say this, but that trip sounds great. It would be even better if the ship sailed up North a little farther and gave us a view of the Northern Lights for a few nights in a row. A week on the ocean looking at the stars sounds like a great time to me. I’ll be looking at stars because I’ll pretty much be confined to deck unless I want to be drugged senseless, but I could go for that anyway. I haven’t seen a decent night’s sky in more than ten years. Seven nights on the ocean sounds like heaven.

After we dock in Britain at the other end of the journey, we could cross over to Ireland to visit her ancestral kin there and have a pint of Guinness at the brewery. We could stay a week or a month getting to know the place, wherever it is we land at. Sounds like a plan to me.

I’m not into aimless wandering and I’m not related to anyone in Ireland that would care. You won’t know until you get there, dear. Who’s wandering aimlessly? I have a goal: Guinness at the brewery. That is my goal.

Crossing Europe by train? I’d go for that in an instant if it was cheap enough. Trains and their support structures are an engineering and architectural wet dream combined. I’d never have to leave the train or the station. I’d just hang around gawking at the structures until we’re ready to move again. No need for additional itinerary.

Which is the only real problem. There are tons of things to see in every city and town along the way through Europe, and there is no way to appreciate this fact unless you get out of the vehicle you are traveling in, lace up your shoes, strap on your pack and start walking. That is the way to travel. Hiking cross country has been a thing I always wanted to try but never had a chance to do. When you have to work every day of every week just to keep the lights on and the roof over your head, there is no time for sightseeing or joyriding unless you work it into the routine that you have to keep up.

This proposed form of travel struck the Wife as a unique form of torture. It would. She blew out both her knees in marching band. Each step is precious to her these days. I’d send her ahead in a car to scout out a place to sleep for the next week or month while I did the hiking I love. It’ll give her time to chat up the natives, that’s what she does best anyway. She just slows me down when we’re out walking. Having someone to talk to can make all the difference, but in the end you have to make the distance in the time allowed.

Like so many other lists that people make, the bucket list is one I will have to pass on. There will not be a list of ten things I’d like to do or see before I die. I won’t limit myself to a list of places that I would like to go. You never know if the thing you really should see is the thing right next to what you are supposed to see unless you take the time to go there and look around. No travel itinerary will allow for that kind of loitering. That is my objection to touristy travel. I want to sip tea until I’m ready to leave, not until the group is ready to leave. An itinerary is for tourists, and I don’t do touristy.

Touring Texas

I ran across a question from some Brits who were going to be driving from Houston to Austin on Reddit. They wanted to know about bars being open, and anything specifically to do on the drive between Houston and Austin. Having only been that way once or twice, I have little to say about the span of distance between those two cities.

The bars in Texas are open. All of Texas is open because our Governor wants to make his Trumpist base believe that he agrees with the lies told by the former President and his supporters. That COVID is a hoax and we don’t need to be vaccinated or worry about anything except what scam cure for the hoax (explain that one) they are supposed to buy this week.

My advice to foreigners coming to Texas? If you have to come, get vaccinated and wear a mask. I’d pick a better vacation spot if I were you though.

In the comments that followed there were dozens of people offering up various eateries all over the state, most of it ethnic food. I’ve always found this tendency to be quite humorous. “What’s the best thing in my city? Something brought here from another place.”

People who live in an area routinely think that the best thing in the area is the thing that isn’t from there (Like suggesting getting Kolaches or other ethnic food that is widely available in Texas) If you can get brisket every day (the staple food of Texas) brisket isn’t the thing that you suggest others eat. A tourist sees things differently. This is why I try to think of the things I would do while visiting a strange place, and then find those kinds of things around me. Things that have merged into the background noise for residents.

Knowing what people who don’t live in Texas might find interesting while visiting Texas is the foundation of at least one person’s fame and livelihood:

https://thedaytripper.com/ (this is not displaying correctly on the published article. I don’t know why. -ed.)

It would be foolish for me to attempt to outdo someone who makes a living trying to bring attention to the little-known parts of Texas. Even the Texas Standard has a weekly weekend trip tip to keep Texans and visitors apprised of what is going on around us in Texas each week. That segment usually airs on Thursdays. The archive for the show has become neglected in the COVID years.

However, I have traveled in Texas myself and I have a particular bent towards the kinds of things that I think visitors might overlook. I drove between Austin and San Angelo for years, and the Texas forts trail was always worth the time following when I had the time to devote to it. Fort Concho in San Angelo has Christmas events. Usually.

As someone with architectural/archeological interests that sort of thing is fascinating to me. I stop at roadside markers and explore almost any abandoned structure that I can access from the road. I’ve found neglected churches, abandoned schools and country courthouses just driving down old road looking for places to explore when I’ve been required to travel long distance through unfamiliar country.

When I have guests in Austin I always take them to tour the Texas Capitol complex. I don’t know if it’s open now with COVID, but the historical tour combined with the modern underground expansion is a unique bit of architecture to experience. The same goes for shopping at the Domain or visiting the new stadium for the soccer team. Driving out to the F1 track. If you are from Austin you probably never want to go to these places. If you aren’t then it’s probably something that you might find interesting.

If it’s nature you are after here, there is the Wildflower Center or Zilker Botanical Gardens (renovation) McKinney falls is lovely, but then so is Hamilton Pool. If you go to Zilker park you might want to go through the lights at Zilker, walk around under the moon tower that they turn into a christmas tree.

After all of that you will want food. The Salt Lick is where most people go or know about if they think about Austin and brisket. When I worked downtown I would walk over to Franklin‘s or the Ironworks. I haven’t been there in years, but both places are still in business so they probably don’t suck as places to go to eat. Places that serve brisket in Texas have to be good if they want to stay in business.

https://www.instagram.com/elarroyo_atx/

No matter where you go, you’ll still be in Texas unless you drive for more than a day. Do your best to enjoy yourself while you are here.

reddit

November Funk

It’s been really hard to make myself write anything since July first:

The Wife pulled through the surgery fine. She spent a full month in the hospital (who will pay for this and how that paying will be done is going to be the fight of the century) and then spent the three months after that slowly recuperating from the procedure.

I managed to push myself through the increased demands on my time and energy almost for the full four months. Two weeks before she graduated from Cardio Rehab I was hit with multiple vertigo spells over the course of three or four days, the cost of pushing myself beyond my limits once again:

That fog lasted just long enough to push me into my Winter doldrums. I don’t know what it is about the sun being low in the Southern sky, but I never feel like I’m quite awake when it is. When we were visiting family in Illinois a few years ago, I felt like that pretty much every day we were there, and that was in the Spring.

So here we are in November, and I just want to curl up in a ball and sleep for three months. I want to sleep for three months and I have four months of notes about stuff that I really wanted to get on the blog to go through. Oh well. At least the Wife is feeling better. Even if she’s not feeling better than ever, then at least she’s feeling well enough to drive now. I couldn’t take much more of being the primary driver in the family.