Monday, January 26, 2009

Another Boring Weekend

Against my better judgment, I bought a box of girl scout cookies from a coworker's daughter on Friday afternoon and ate an entire sleeve before I went home. I stayed kind of late slowly finishing something I needed to do for my manager, and then since I was full of cookies I skipped dinner. I spent the evening in front of the television watching new episodes of Friday Night Lights and Battlestar Galactica.
Saturday was fairly gray and cool, only getting up to about 50 degrees. I puttered about all morning, then at noon went for a bicycle ride. I wore long john bottoms and shorts rather than my usual workout-type pants which keep getting caught in the chain ring. The gear worked out pretty well, once I got over the initial cold. It was a bit cold on the ankles where there was a small gap between the long johns and socks. What I couldn't tell from inside was that it was also quite windy in addition to being cold. I decided for a change of pace and hopefully to go with the wind to head east to TX Roadhouse for lunch. The wind didn't really seem to have a prevailing direction, so it was still windy both going and coming back, but not as bad as a full-on headwind. My food took longer to come out than it should have, but I didn't mind since I wasn't starving and it gave me some time to read the paper. I mostly watched TV the rest of the day.
I've been concerned about the size of my backpack, since it's smaller than recommended for my Rainier expedition, so I tried to fit all the gear I currently have for the trip into it. I didn't do any sort of expert packing job, and not everything fit. I guess I'll have to start seriously looking for a new backpack. I figured as long as I had a pack full of gear, I would run up and down my stairs wearing it. I started at a full sprint, but that lasted less than a minute. I slowed down as I went and stopped after only 3 minutes completely out of breath. A little later after I'd caught my breath again I went over to Jimmy's and then we drove down to his automotive shop to drop my car off for him to do some work on it. We had lunch at Bikinis, then went over to Dave's to hang out. Along the way we stopped in at a private race course, talked to a guy working on a car in the garage and then watched a few cars running the course for a little while. Dave was playing on his tractor, so we mostly stayed out of his way. Jimmy and I met his wife, daughter and grandson for dinner, then he dropped my off at home and I watched a DVD, then went to sleep.
This morning I was disappointed to see that the weather forecast was wrong, and instead of it just being cloudy, it was foggy and the ground was wet. I would have liked to just stay home, but I rode the night train in to the office. It was a bit squirrely a couple of times and I had trouble seeing most of the way, but I made it in. It was still foggy at lunchtime, so instead of my normal going out for lunch, I stayed in and ate the other sleeve of girl scout cookies.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

3-Day Weekend

I did stair climbing again after work on Monday, then went over to Jimmy's for steak. I got a call from Jimmy Tuesday morning saying a friend of ours, Dave, had had a heart attack. I went over to the hospital with him Wednesday evening. Dave was still in the ICU, mostly because they hadn't found a room for him, and was up and moving around, in good spirits, and pretty well ready to get out of the hospital. They let him out Thursday evening and he went back to work on Friday.
On Saturday I went and saw Timecrimes, a Spanish move about time travel, which I really enjoyed. I went and had dinner with Dave, Jimmy and Rene, then went back and drank beer on Jimmy's deck for a while. Sunday I met up with Jimmy and Dave and another friend about noon at the Texican. We had lunch, then went for a ride out to a memorial for a guy we all knew who was killed in a motorcycle accident. There was a pretty good turnout, including quite a few outlaws, but not enough that I was particularly intimidated. I was riding wearing a handkerchief over my face, so the cedar wasn't bothering me too badly while riding, but my nose was running the entire time we were stopped. There were a few old riding friends I don't see that often any more, so I chatted with them and showed them my tattoo. We stopped in Wimberley on the way back to Austin and had some beer and snacks and watched the playoff game. When I got home the cedar fever really kicked in, making my eyes red and irritated and making me sneeze and my nose run. About 7 I went downtown, with lots of tissues, to see a double bill of animation by Ralph Bakshi. I really wasn't familiar with his work, but I like weird animation, so I thought what the heck, and went for it. Bakshi was there, spoke a little before the showing of Wizards about how it got made and other stuff about the film. I enjoyed the film, which had a bit of a mix of animation styles and some stock WWII footage. After the film, there was a bit of a Q&A with Bakshi, but most of the questions were from the host of the event. It didn't take long for Bakshi to come across as a cantankerous old man who was already up past his bed time. After the questions, the host teased an introduction to the next film, suggesting that Bakshi would put some "context" to a controversial film. This suggestion got Bakshi a bit upset, possibly implying that the controversy was still quite fresh in his mind. Once the host mentioned the word "racism," Bakshi got very upset and stormed out of the theater. The whole exchange was kind of weird to watch from the audience: at first, you're not sure if he's really upset, and it's a little bit humorous; then it becomes clear that he is pretty upset and it's very uncomfortable to witness. After a little break, the manager came out and announced what everyone already had guessed, that Bakshi had left, saying he was tired. The host and another animator who was in the audience (Brad Neely) gave the film a little introduction, and then started Street Fighter (aka Coonskin). The film is a mix of live action and animation about the underworld of Harlem, and it was quite clear how it could stir up controversy coming from a white filmmaker. I enjoyed what I saw of it, I slept through a good chunk of the movie, and didn't think it racist. It would be horribly un-PC by today's standards, but for 1975 it could almost be seen as progressive, in a certain sense.
I had a really bad night's sleep Sunday night. It seems the anti-allergy medication I've been taking has lost its effectiveness and instead of relieving congestion, it completely plugged my nose up. Fortunately Monday was a holiday and I slept until 9, so it didn't work out too badly. I had a lot of thoughts of doing something productive, but just puttered around all morning then went for a bicycle ride at noon. I had first thought about having lunch somewhere on Barton Springs, and the wind was strong enough that I was getting worn out and thinking about just turning around or going somewhere closer, but I decided instead to go to Home Slice. After lunch I took a spin on the hike-and-bike trail, then stopped in to Uncle Billy's. The place was pretty empty, probably because not everybody in town had the day off. I sat at the bar, read the paper and drank a couple beers. From there I rode straight home. I went to the grocery store and got a couple things, but forgot to get more tissues since I've gone through almost all the ones I had. I watched some shows on the DVR and Wanted, which wasn't really good, but not terrible. I had another terrible night's sleep, and was awake from about 5-6 am. I finally got back to sleep, and I wasn't pleased when my alarm went off at 7. I slept with the radio on until about 8, then dragged myself out of bed and went to work.

Monday, January 12, 2009


After work on Monday, and again on Thursday, I walked up and down the stairs in the building for a half hour. On Wednesday I skipped out a little early and went and donated blood at the blood center. Traffic was worse than I was expecting, and my blood pressure was almost at their maximum for donating. After I finished, I went and had dinner at Chuy's. Jimmy called while I was there and invited me over, but I was pretty tired and just went home and crashed on the couch.
The pollen count was particularly high on Friday, and it really bothered me at work. It didn't hit right away, but by 10 it was pretty clear that it was particularly bad. My officemate was also suffering, so the office was all sniffling and nose blowing all day. I skipped out a little early and went over to Palmer for the tattoo convention. I've been going to it for a few years now, checking out the art and largely for excellent people watching. I've had the idea to get a tattoo of my Fat Boy for quite a while now and at the convention last year I found a guy whose work I really liked (Mike Bernstein). I had thoughts on going to his shop in the Dallas area to get it done, but never did. I knew he was going to be at the convention again this year, so I went on the Fat Boy (on the off chance he wanted to see it for real) with the photo I wanted done. I got fairly nervous/anxious once I got to the convention, but I found the guy, and he wasn't working yet, and when he said he could do it, I just said "alright, let's do it," or something to that effect at least. It took him about a half hour to draw the outline, tracing over a photocopy of my photo. He didn't give me an estimate of how long it would take him, so I kind of lurked around until it was clear it was going to take him a while. I got a load of cash, since most artists, particularly at a convention, don't take credit cards. I used the one set up inside the convention space, and then when I went to my bike to get my shorts to change in to I saw an ATM I could have used without any fees that would have saved about $10. I changed and then wandered around checking out the other artists. I was getting hungry so I got a couple not-quite-as-terrible-as-feared tacos and a soda. Mike finished the outline about 6, and then started getting set up to actually do the tattoo. Somewhat disconcertingly, he hadn't come completely prepared and had to go and get some supplies from other artists or vendors. Also not entirely reassuringly, he said "this should be fun." He applied the stencil to my left calf, looked at it for a while, said it looks a little weird because of the shape of my calf, then borrowed a hand mirror to make sure I was okay with it. Finally ready, I got up on the table, he got me positioned how he wanted me, and went to work. It certainly wasn't the most pleasant feeling, but it didn't hurt that bad, it was more like it was really irritating. It got worse once he was done with the outline and started filling in the black areas. As it went on, it got a little worse just because the area was more tender. He was putting pressure on my ankle to get my leg in the position he wanted, which caused pain but distracted from the tattoo area. Most of the time I was distracting myself from it, reading the paper and then playing with my phone, just checking on the progress now and then. I'm no tattoo expert, and I didn't ask him and wasn't paying that close of attention, but I think he did the whole thing with a single needle. I didn't really talk with Mike much, but every once in a while someone would come and chat with him, and a couple people asked me about the bike, and they were pretty impressed by how much I've ridden it. There were also a number of good looking women walking around to distract me. He filled in the outline from darkest to lightest, starting with the fenders and gas tank, then the frame, then the engine and transmission and finally the wheels. Toward the end, getting close to 9:30, he was in a bit of a rush trying to get finished before the "tattoo of the day" competition. The final bit was to add white highlights (using borrowed white ink) which was fairly unpleasant after already being worked over for 3 hours. Tattoo (my picture) He wanted me to enter the contest because he thought that since the judges were all friends of his, he had a chance of winning. I didn't wind up winning, but afterward one of the judges said it was a three-way tie including myself until someone gave the winner, an aboriginal type design on the throat, an extra half point. Mike took a few pictures, wrapped me up, gave me some care tips, then I payed him and headed out. I stopped at Uncle Billy's and had some food and a couple beers on my way home. My allergies hadn't been bothering me since getting to the convention, but once I got on the road to go home about 11, they walloped me. Snot was running out of my nose, and my eyes were so teared up I could barely see. I stopped at the drug store to get the recommended ointment for the tattoo and also decided to pick up the generic version of Zyrtec. Since it was all locked up, I went for the "real stuff" with pseudoephedrine, which I had to show my license and sign for. I'm not certain how effective it was, but it certainly didn't leave me asymptomatic, and I didn't get a great night's sleep. When I put on the ointment, some of the white ink bled out, and it has continued doing so when reapplying.
I decided to see The Wrestler on Saturday. I wanted to ride my bicycle, but was a bit hesitant with it being on the cold and windy outside, as well as my calf being a bit sore. I thought I'd tough it out and left the house on the bicycle at 9:30. I didn't get to the end of the block before I decided it was too cold and windy, and turned around and went home. I drove downtown about 10 for the 11 o'clock showing. I thought it was a really great movie, I really liked it. I took a nap after I got home and did almost nothing the rest of the day. I didn't do much of anything worthwhile Sunday morning, then at noon I got on the bicycle and rode to the Veloway, stopping for lunch at Which Wich. I did two laps, taking a little break in between, then headed home. I vegetated, watched the Steelers, Annie Hall, and the end of the Golden Globes, then went to bed. I had a terrible night's sleep, waking up every couple of hours because I couldn't breathe.

Monday, January 5, 2009

End of Vacation

Friday I did a bit of house cleaning and then went out for a bicycle ride. I rode over to the Veloway, but had to sit down for a few minutes once I got there because I was getting a cramp. I did one lap, had another short rest, did one more lap, then had a little rest before heading home. I had lunch at Which Wich, then went home. Later in the afternoon I washed and vacuumed my car. My car had been covered in bird crap for a couple of weeks after parking downtown under a tree where grackles congregate, and the little bit of rain we've gotten since failed to wash much of it off. I didn't do anything in the evening, just watched some TV.
Saturday was pretty lazy, I ran some errands in the morning, and spent some of the afternoon doing a bit of rearranging, using the new shelving unit I bought. It's an improvement, but a far cry from my idea of cleaning the garage over the week off. I decided to go out for dinner, riding the Night Train to Pluckers. I watched the NFL playoff game for a while, then decided rather than go straight home I'd swing by Giddyups, a redneck bar down the street from my house. It was fairly dead, there was a band set up but they weren't playing when I got there and by the time they started I was ready to go, and they didn't exactly make me want to stay any longer.
I puttered around the house all Sunday morning, then went for a bicycle ride, but it was cool and really windy. I set off into the wind and only got 4 miles before I was tired and starting to get a cramp, so I headed home with the wind and it was a lot easier going. Later on Jimmy invited me over for some chili. I hung out over there until 8, then went back home and watched Man on Wire on DVD, which I really liked.
Today was back to work, unfortunately. I no longer have an office to myself, a new hire started this past Friday when nobody else was in the office. So far he's been really quiet, so hopefully it won't be any worse before when I had an officemate.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year

Since the office is going to be empty, I decided to take this whole week off as vacation, even though I didn't have any plans. The hope is to get some R&R and also in hopes of doing some long neglected house work. On Monday I rode through the hill country to pick up a final few ABCs. I wound up having to alter my route and kind of double back a bit because the sign marking the Gillespie/Kendall county line was missing. I also got Wimberley, which should give me 66 points for the year, the top level, but well short of being at the head of the field. Maybe one year I'll have enough time to travel the world and get over 100 points. I got home in the afternoon, loaded the pictures onto my computer and then had them printed at the HEB on the corner. I picked up the pictures and then went to the post office to mail them in to Harley. There were way more people there than I expected, and I had to wait in line just to use the automated machine, and the line for an actual person was ridiculous. The only postage the machine could print covered where I'd written the address, so I had to rewrite it, but I couldn't find a pen in the place, so I had to get one from my car. I finally got it off, hopefully it'll actually get there. I then went and had dinner at Twin Peaks.
Tuesday I rode my bicycle downtown and had lunch at the Shady Grove, which was pretty crowded and I had to wait about 10 minutes to get a table. I took a spin along the hike-and-bike trail, then started home. I was fatigued at that point and it seemed like I used the last of my energy on the first hill on Lamar, riding in the bike lane. I managed to keep going, but decided to stop at the bicycle shop where I bought the bike for a bit of a rest. They had a bunch of stuff on sale, so I picked up a few things, then rode the rest of the way home. I pretty much just vegetated the rest of the afternoon and evening. That night I had a really terrible night's sleep. Even though I'd taken some nasal spray before bed, my nose didn't clear up and I couldn't breathe through it. Breathing through my mouth eventually makes my mouth completely dry, which is rather uncomfortable and it wakes me up.
Wednesday I had lunch at Tacodeli and then went for a hike along the Barton Creek Greenbelt. It was pretty nice, I went at a fairly leisurely pace, stopping briefly a couple places to check out the people rock climbing the sheer limestone cliffs. I went as far as Mopac and went to check out the building my company is going to be moving to. Since I was on the wrong side of the creek, I walked across the dry bed and then scrambled up a hill to get to the street level. I wandered around a little bit, and sat for a while and got the rocks out of my shoes. My feet were already hurting at that point and I kind of wished I could have gotten a ride back to my car, but that wasn't exactly an option, so I walked back the roughly 3 miles along the greenbelt, sticking with a pretty decent pace the whole time. I got back to my car about 4, got a Dr Pepper and a snack from the convenience store there, and then went home. I fortunately managed to take about a 45 minute nap. I didn't do anything too interesting to celebrate the new year, just dinner at TX Roadhouse and pool and drinks until midnight at Stardust with Jimmy and Rene.
I didn't do much of anything interesting today. I fell asleep on the couch for a little while early this afternoon after taking some antihistamines. I went over to Jimmy's for a meal including black eyed peas, which are supposed to give you luck if you eat them on New Year's Day.
At the end of 2008, the Fat Boy's odometer was 91958 miles, and Night Train was at 6062, for a total of almost 18000 miles for the year.