Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

1 July, 2011

Move With Me!

After several weeks of work and having come to the conclusion that my site will never be perfect, I invite you all to move with me to my new domain.

If you’re subscribed here, I would kindly ask that you resubscribe there at: http://ridingincarswithducks.com.

As a reward for you lovely folks who have taken the time to read me, I have posted there some highly embarrassing material from seven years ago, when I was only thirteen.

Thanks to everyone for encouraging me to keep blogging and writing. I do this for me, but I keep doing because of you.

*Bobs

9 June, 2011

Exploits in Washington and the Search for the Pointy Thing

It sounds like the start of a really bad joke.

Q: What happens when you unleash six Texans on Washington DC?

A: [insert conservative Texan stereotype here] [deliver punchline with a distinct drawl] [make sure to include one of the following: guns, dogs, dogs with guns, hats, dogs with guns and hats, boots, cows, dogs and cows wearing hats and boots while holding guns] [finish with a good poke at Liberalism]

I’ll stop now. I suppose I can’t say much. I am, after all, a proud Texan who owns a dog, a hat, boots, and a gun. No cows. But I know where I can find some if the urge strikes.

I shouldn’t perpetuate the Texan stereotype, I know, but I’m willing to bet that “Texans in Washington DC” sparks some kind of mental hilarity for almost everyone who reads it. The reality of our visit to the capital city is almost certainly less amusing than whatever bad joke you have in mind. Nonetheless, our exploits were amusing in their own right.

So… What happens when six Texans go to Washington?

1. They promptly get lost.

In Texas, as in much of the south (where I was born and bred, and thus can comment on with authority), this is how one typically gives directions:

You’re gonna want to walk to the gas station on the corner – the one that used to be the Citgo – and make a right turn onto Smith Lane – but the sign won’t say Smith Lane, it’s going to say Farm Road 1844 and if you get lost you’ll need to tell ’em that you’re looking for Loop 3, because they’re all the same thing – and then after you get onto Smith Lane, keep walking until you see a big tree on your left, by the water tower…

If you’re lucky, all of the landmarks in question still exist. I swear, I’ve been told to drive to where the gas station used to be.

Naturally, we spent a good portion of our time wandering around DC and the University of Maryland completely and utterly lost. On the UMD campus, all of the buildings look exactly the same. I once made a wrong turn trying to get back to our dorms, and upon calling Ganiva to explain my predicament, could only tell her, “well, I’m between a bunch of red brick buildings…. no… I don’t know which ones…”

Luckily, Ariel had her trusty iPad and our trip to the cafe quickly turned into something resembling The Amazing Race: College Edition. (I’d totally watch that show.)

2. They claim the land as their own.

“I hereby claim this patch of sidewalk in the name of Texas!”
The Nation of Texas expands into the northern territories.

Actually, I think that this arm waving might have been prompted by me asking a random question about cartwheels.

But claiming the land for the great Nation of Texas sounds like so much more fun. But even if we don’t claim the land, Texans visiting anywhere know that there is one requirement that can not be avoided. When Texans go traveling…

3. They search for things that might be bigger than they are in Texas.

This is a tree. We don’t have these in Texas.
If there were turtles this big wandering around Texas, I’m sure there would be a hunting season for them.

It’s like we feel it is our duty to locate anything that could infringe upon the idea that everything is bigger in Texas. Naturally, once we’ve located this giant objects, we promptly pose with them. It’s all a part of our secret plot to relocate them to a small town off I-35 and turn them into a tourist attraction. “Come see Manny, the giant turtle! Biggest in the world!”

I don’t know why the turtle in this scenario is named Manny. Just go with it.

4. They take a lot of pictures. Of each other. Taking pictures. Of each other.

Thing 1
Thing 2
Crikey! It’s a photographer in her natural habitat! We’ll have to walk quietly or she’ll steal our soul with her magic picture machine.

I never go anywhere without my camera. As it turned out, Christine’s camera was nearly identical to mine. This resulted in the two of us taking dozens of pictures of each other taking pictures of each other. It also resulted in mild annoyance  from everyone around us as we slowly morphed into Thing 1 and Thing 2 – the camera paparazzi twins.

We took, between the two of us, 608 photos.  I think there may be a program for people like us. I’ll research it just as soon as I can pull myself away from photoshop editing the pictures we took.

5. They recruit new Texans.

Hint: Only 5 of the people in this photo are from Texas. We started our evening out with just the six of us, but – perhaps because of our undeniable Texas charm, or perhaps because we were just the loudest, craziest group in the crowd – by the time we got to dinner, we’d collected five more people.

The one in the back wearing the white t-shirt is Tabitha. She grew up barely ten minutes from me in Newton, North Carolina… and we’d never met before.

We, of course, invited everyone to come to Texas at their earliest convenience. They were all such great women, we knew we wanted them playing for our team.

6. They assert their Texanism.

Christine, Ariel, Chi, and Me with keynote speaker and UT Austin grad, Shelby Knox

Asserting one’s Texanism can be done in many ways. Flashing the Longhorn hand symbol is a quick and efficient way to let people know you’re a proud Texan. So is squealing with delight when you find the Texas statue in the WWII memorial. Not that I would do that. Then, there is the ever popular shouting, clapping, whooping, and hollering when the keynote speaker says that she went to UT.

Longhorns REPRESENT!

7. They practice their performance skills.

Here, for example, MinAe, Ariel, Chi, and Christine pose as four of the lesser known dwarves: Yawney, Pouty, Smiley, and Bored.

This could also be attributed to the fact that I’d been snapping photos for fifteen minutes straight. But I prefer to think of it as creative performance art.

8. Most importantly, when Texans go traveling, they Search for the Pointy Thing.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Washington Monument. We all know that, of course. And yet, as we walked around DC downtown, we made a conscious effort to “locate the big  pointy thing.” And thus, the Washington Monument was called “the big pointy thing” all night long.

Why, you ask, would Texans do this? Why would we call such a lovely monument by such a name? And why would we care where the pointy thing was located?

It didn’t dawn on me until the next day.

See, at UT, we have this tower. You might have heard of it. There was a sniper there about forty years ago and we haven’t ever lived it down. If you go to UT, you spend a good portion of your day orienting to the tower. When giving directions on campus, you do it in relationship to the tower. Lost? Not if you can see the tower from where you’re standing. And if you happen to forget that the tower is there, bells ring from it every fifteen minutes.

We LOVE our towers.

Naturally, when we find ourselves in an unfamiliar place, the first thing we do is look for a point of reference. The tallest building. Doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it’s tall. And pointy. It is, from there on out, the pointy thing and it is how we find our way around.

When Chi, Ariel, and Tabitha got separated from Ganiva, MinAe, Christine and I as we walked around Washington DC at 1:30 in the morning, the first thing we did was to call them up and ask “Can you see the pointy thing? We’re in front of the White House, and it’s behind us here.”

I’m sure George wouldn’t mind his monument being referred to as the big pointy thing.

Just as long as we didn’t leave out the “big.”

We did, by the way, eventually find each other. And we stayed out until nearly 2:30, running from monument to monument, snapping pictures, and slowly growing delirious. By the following morning, my feet felt as if someone had taken a two by four to them.

But it was TOTALLY worth it. I haven’t had so much fun in a long time. Or so many pictures.

*Bobs

9 February, 2011

Can We Get Some Lithium, Please?

I’ve been in Texas for four years now, and I have to say, I like it here. The people are friendly; my city is beautiful; my university is the best in the country. Not that I’m at all biased. But it isn’t just me. Everyone I know who lives in Austin loves it.

Most of it.

Despite its beauty and charm, Austin has fallen victim to a force of evil stronger than a Starbucks Triple-Shot Espresso. See, here in Austin, we have a Winter Weather God. And our Winter Weather God – he’s bipolar.

I don’t mind the cold, not really. I grew up in North Carolina, where it was expected to be cold from late-November to early-March. You might get a rare, off-season snowfall, but for the most part, the weather was thoroughly predictable. And that was fine. Every fall, I’d pack away my summer clothes and pull out the boxes of parkas and sweaters. I looked forward to the long weeks ahead of eating soup and other warm things.

Not down here.

Nine days into February, and we’ve covered fall, winter, and spring weather. Here’s an excerpt from what my facebook page has looked like for the past week:

Matt: whoa whoa whoa…. we are under a winter weather advisory for tomorrow???? for real?!?!

Tammie: Did I really just wake up to 60 degree weather?! My dreams came true! Thank you bipolar Texas weather god!

Charlotte: Today is the beginning of my first actual SNOW DAY! WOOOHOOO! It is absolutely beautiful outside!

Una: brilliance of the power company… “we understand it is freezing outside and for that reason we shall turn the electricity off because you demand too much of it” ….. 4th time since this morning!

Kelly: It was 64 degrees at midnight.. This morning I almost fell on my butt running a dirty diaper to trash can at end of my deck – the rain we got last night froze…

That’s right. For the uninformed, let me give an account of the events since last week. First, it was warm. 65. Sunny. Typical Austin Winter.

Overnight, the temperature dropped to below freezing. That’s when our power company determined that it didn’t have enough power to supply the state, because of the cold. I still haven’t wrapped my head around this one. How can it be TOO COLD for power? How? HOW? The power company decided, in it’s brilliance, to fix the problem of “too little power, too many heaters” by executing a plan of rolling blackouts throughout the state.

What this actually meant was that we woke up to freezing temperatures with no heat, no light, and no idea of when it would come back on. My parents were out of power from 6 AM until 2 PM. Kelly got about 20 minutes of power to the hour. I learned that getting ready for school with no heater is an excellent motivator to get out of the house and head to UT, where it is warm.

This is the image of a dog who does NOT like to be cold.

That was Wednesday. By Thursday night, it was icing. And Friday morning, school was canceled for the day because of the half inch of snow on the ground. Which, of course, makes sense here. I know how to drive in snow – but I wouldn’t dare go out in ice in Austin. People down here? Well, they don’t have to learn. And the roads aren’t built for it. And ice turns them into high-rise death traps. So no school on Friday.

 

The snow was gone by Friday evening, and Saturday afternoon was 60 degrees and sunny. Sunday and Monday were lovely. And now, only a week after the rolling blackout hell, we find ourselves in the middle of another 25 degree overnight temperature drop.

Sunday?

It’s supposed to be 73.

So seriously – our *Winter Weather God is Bipolar. Can we get a little Lithium over here please?

*Bobs

* I would like to note that our Summer Weather God is not at all Bipolar, and is in fact, very rigid in his schedule of 40+ days of 100+ temperatures. It’s entirely possible that he is a Sadist. But that’s a different post all together.

19 January, 2011

Where Are The Witnesses?

Yesterday evening, on my way to OCD group, I was sitting in the non-duck turn lane waiting on my chance to make a U-Turn under the highway. I looked around at the other cars, as I usually do when I’m waiting at a light.

You can see the funniest things on other cars.

I was once behind a car with the bumper sticker, “Please Be Careful, Show Bunnies On Board.” And I thought, why would I show anyone bunnies? I don’t have any bunnies to show. I have a bird… but I don’t think that’s anything that other drivers really want to see. Nor do they. Unless they piss me off.

But I digress.

Two lanes next to me, an SUV sat alone at the light. Out of nowhere (or really, out of a little way’s up the frontage road), another car sped down the lane. The driver didn’t even brake – at least, there were no brake lights to be seen – and slammed into the SUV.

It was a mess. There was glass everywhere. The kind of thing that no one likes to admit that they like to see on occasion because it keeps things interesting, but that, everyone watches. As if the accident wasn’t bad enough, the no-brakes-kamikaze driver backed up, turned the car just a bit, and then floorboarded it around the side of the SUV, hitting another car in the process and speeding off.

I made a point to check the license plate as he drove away, repeating it to myself a few times. It only made sense to do so. By this time, my light had turned green – but I didn’t want to turn anymore. I signaled, trying to get to the side of the road so that I could pull over and offer the information I had. And make sure that everyone was okay.

But you know, it took five minutes – filled with a cacophony of honking horns – before anyone let me across the lanes of traffic. In the end, I got over. Parked.

Three of us did. Three people.

But there must have been twenty cars sitting at the light. So what I want to know is this: Where were the other witnesses? Is everyone so wrapped up in their own lives that they don’t notice when a psycho plows into an SUV? How is it possible that no one else saw? Moreso, how is it possible that everyone did see, and decided to just pull away and let other people handle it?

It blows my mind. It baffles me.

I’m no saint. God knows. I’ve been known to share my music with friends illegally. I have the mouth of a sailor in real life. I can be catty. And sarcastic. And condescending as hell. I’m far from perfect. But the absolute lack of a sense of civic responsibility? THAT, I don’t get.

I’ve relayed this story to a few people now and most of them have been SURPRISED that I bothered to pull over. They want to know why I would get involved. I want to know why they wouldn’t. Maybe that’s the left over social worker in me – I’m not sure. But I can’t get my head around the concept of “let other people take care of it.” If everyone says that, no one does anything.

And if I’m the one on the side of the road with a totaled car, I certainly would hope that people would stop to help me.

I think it’s just a matter of Do The Right Thing. I see it less and less, and it’s disheartening. These are the basic rules that we’re taught as children, aren’t they?

Pick up after yourself.

Help people out when you can.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Why is it okay for us to forget them as adults? In a situation where 20 people witness a car crash, why did only three people stop to make sure that everyone was okay and that the passengers weren’t hurt?

Did I mention that there was a child in the car? And that, if they hadn’t been in an SUV, the crash would have likely caused injury?

WHERE WERE THE WITNESSES?

As it was, the second car that the psycho hit didn’t take too kindly to being swiped, and when the psycho ran, that person chased him. By the time the police got to us, he’d been apprehended. But if he hadn’t? There were three of us there, ready with license plate numbers and eyewitness accounts, willing to speak to the police about what happened  – something that would have been crucial, as the only one in the SUV who spoke English was the 10-year-old girl.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m asking too much of people. Expecting too much. Another of my flaws.

But seriously…

It just seems fracked.

*Bobs