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Monday, March 31, 2008

Car Show Report

I didn't bother to see what the story was - sponsor or supported charity etc, but this past weekend while my wife and I were out and about, we happened upon a little car show of sorts in the parking lot near Northern Tool over off Vance Jackson.

I'm no real motor head or anything like that. To be honest, about the time I learned what it was to have to pay bills, the idea of spending what little cash I had on spiffing up a car was pretty much lost. Before then, I had a '73 Camaro like this one, only a hell of a lot nicer.

Anyway, even if I have lost the urge to tool around town in a muscle car, they certainly are fun to look at, especially when you see what great care the owners have taken to either keep them in shape or restore them to their original grandeur. This is the group of cars we saw. Definitely Mustang heavy - like this awesome Shelby. I love the Mopar!Some guy had a '73 Pantera on display. Wow!

And like I say - lots of Mustangs. Cool cars. And I'm sure at $3.10 a gallon, they are better left on display on weekends rather than making a daily commute.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Strange in 78250: Or There Abouts...

I am not here to poke fun at the crippled, injured and less fortunate amongst us, but this is simply too Beverly Hillbilly'ish to not report. I mean, I fully expected Jethro Bodine to be driving this truck.So apparently, someone in the family needs to use one of those motorized chairs. And to get the thing from point A to point B, they have these hoist systems that mount to your vehicle to make transport easy.Yes, I know these things are expensive and not all insurance companies cover the full cost to retrofit your daily driver with one of these but c'mon folks. The strange thing was, with all the extra chains hanging off the back of it, it almost looked as though maybe ol' Granny had been strapped to it. Geeze, I hope she didn't fall off somewhere down Southwest Military Drive!

Lunch Report: Red Robin...

Someone, just bring me one of those huge engine hoists and grab me by the belt loops; that's what it is going to take to get me in and out of my car if I keep this assault on my body up. Thank goodness my wife knows CPR. I should be writing this from a treadmill.

But it was recently my wife's birthday and the people at Red Robin were kind enough to e-mail her one of those buy one get one sort of coupons, so how the heck do you expect me to pass up on that?

I have already told you about how good Red Robin is (read about it here), but since we had our son with us, we finally tried the onion rings we wanted but didn't want to eat the entire order by ourselves.
Wonder no more, these puppies are great. Huge rings fried up just right, not too hard and they breading doesn't fall apart as soon as you touch it. Great stuff there.They serve the rings up stacked with two kinds of sauces, some Ranch and some sort of BBQ and Mayo mixture which was really good. We asked for some of thier own brand of Honey Mustard, and that stuff rocks! Between the the three of us, we made quick work of the onion rings, and if we were smart, health-minded people, we would have simply got up and left.

But there was the burgers to contend with. Every time you go to Red Robin, get something different. They have a huge selection of burgers and this time, my son and I wanted to try what they called the Royal Red Robin Burger. The menuo describes it as "...the aristocrat of all burgers because we crown it with a fresh fried egg. In addition, topped with three strips of hickory-smoked bacon, American cheese, crisp lettuce, tomatoes and mayo."
I never expected to eat a burger with a fried egg on it, but honestly, it was a great taste. I may just start putting eggs on everything, just to see how it comes out.When we were done, our waitress showed up with a fudge sundae for my wife and a group of friends to give the ol' Red Robin version of the birthday song.Yes, we forced the ice cream down our gullets and then waddled ourselves out to the car. If you haven't been over there yet, I promise you, you'll be happy with the selection, the service and the food is simply a Tasty Treat all around.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Dinner Report: Chili's (The Ol' Standby)...

You know the drill - we use Chili's as our version of fast-food when we want to grab something quick but not necessarily take in the full fledged McPlayGround atmosphere of screaming youngsters throwing plastic balls at one another. Our Chili's isn't bad and they often provide quick service at a reasonable price.

So, I otherwise wouldn't even tell you about this but I did try a new burger they offer called the Smokehouse Bacon Triple-the-Cheese Bigmouth Burger. And with apologies to Jeff Kay, I took a picture of the menu so I could get a comparison of what they advertise on the menu and what it looks like when you get it.
My wife would have ordered one, but the menu suggested that the bacon was Jalapeño Applewood, and she likes Jalapeños even less than she likes Applewood, so she went with the regular bacon cheese burger.So, here is the menu picture and I have to admit, it looks pretty darn appetizing. But I always just assume they airbrush these photos, so I was willing to just take a chance that if it wasn't good, I'd tell you about how crappy it was and surely, my input on the vast WWW would cause Chili's to go out of business.This is what I got. Holy crap! Look at the size of that Jalapeño Applewood Bacon! I felt somewhat inadequate just sharing a booth with it! My wife blushed.You can't possibly fit something that size in your mouth, so I cut it in half and here is a side view. They cooked it just right and I was pretty happy about that. I have to tell you that we routinely split a burger when we attend Chili's, but this thing was awesome. Knowing we weren't sharing, I devoured the thing and seriously, unless you are opposed to a little spice, I definitely recommend it.

As a bonus, they whipped up some Ranch dressing mixed with Jalapeños for the dipping of the fries (which I usually don't eat). I ate them.
Overall, good stuff. And hence, Chili's may stay in business.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Strange in Sugar Land: Houston, we Have a Problem...

I try not to steal other people's Internet stuff and post it here so please don't send me a bunch of goofy pictures (unless you want to), but this was just too rich to not pass on. A guy I work with got this sent to him from a friend who claims to be the taker of the picture. Of course, it seems like everyone says that when they forward e-mails involving unbelievable stories. So, for all I know, this could be a stunt from a movie or a Super Bowl commercial for Home Depot.

According to the "friend", this is on Highway 59 near Sugar Land, TX southeast of Houston, and the pictures were taken about 9AM on Tuesday, the 19th of February.
The guy who took the pictures also says that, yes, the driver was on the cell phone. Strange. Strange that the guy didn't make it to to San Antonio by lunch time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Movie Report: No Country For Old Men...Sucks!

I don't really do movie reviews here. The reason is, frankly, over the years, I have proven to be a terrible gauge on what regular people I know find entertaining about a flick.

I loved Lost in Translation - my wife thinks it sucked. But, since we seem to agree on this one, I'll go ahead and tell you that at the end of the movie, we were both in total agreement; this is the worst movie I have ever been suckered into purchasing.

Yes, yes, I understand that many awards were given and some guy I don't know was the best actor. Make no mistake - the acting was brilliant. Tommy Lee Jones is always a favorite. You know he just plays himself in every movie - but according to people who have run across him here in San Antonio, he is simply an obnoxious dick in person. I won't hold that against him because after all, he has to face a knowing public who payed good money to see this stupid movie. He probably is upset that the director screwed this flick up and is taking it out on his adoring public.

That other guy with the weird haircut; who came up with that fashion tip anyway? It wasn't that he didn't do a good job of acting, it just seems as though the lines he was reading never seemed to add up to a full storyline. Call me a doofus, but can someone please tell me what was going on?

Yes, I know that the Josh Brolin character found the dead drug dealers, the dope and the money. I get that he wanted to send his wife off to the mother for safety. I can even understand splitting up - send her on the bus and maybe take a different route. But what did I miss that made him want to go to Mexico?

And who did the creepy haircut guy work for? Or did all the dead businessmen work for him? And when did Woody Harrleson get his hand back?

So intertwined in this unneeded chase - after all, who amongst us would find a briefcase full of money and opt to keep it in the same briefcase while we try to avoid detection of the bad guys? And if the guy empties the money into a gym bag or a laundry basket, or if he does like most of the rest of the normal people in Texas would do - bathe nekkid in the pile of found cash and send Polorids of your fat ass covered in Benjamin's in a polite letter of resignation e-mail to your boss, there wouldn't be a chase because the little homing device would have been found from the word go. But I digress.

Underneath this little chase plot, we have Tommy Lee Jones, mostly eating breakfast and drinking other people's milk. He looks like Agustus McCrae has died again and again and it is weighing heavily on his mind. If Robert Duval had only been in this movie, perhaps we could have had some references to Napalm in the Morning and such, and it might have helped me better understand why Tommy Lee's character was so down. For good measure though, he does meet up with Barry Corbin for a little chat, even though the two never actually met up in Lonesome Dove.

So here's the deal - and please, don't misunderstand; the acting was great and there was this incredible photography of Texas and many of the scenes were simply done with such great skill I can understand the desire for people to want to call this "an Instant Classic" (David Ansen, Newsweek). But when the movie ended, my wife and I looked at one another and in near unison with jaws dropped said, "You gotta be shittin' me!"

If you haven't seen the movie, please don't let my little report pique your interest, because then I'd feel bad that you spent the money on a rental or bought the DVD. Though I suspect at our next garage sale, you'll find this one on sale with a Low Mileage sticker on it in the bargain bin. I won't feel bad if you give us a few bucks for it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lunch Report: Armadillo's on McCullough...

If you have lived in San Antonio for a while, you have been to or at least heard of the old Little Hipps burger place that went out of business a while back. Though not affiliated with the previous restaurant, a burger place called Armadillo's has taken over the building at the corner of McCullough and Evergreen near downtown, and that is where my wife and I found ourselves, just in time for lunch today.The first thing you will notice about the place (aside from the orange color of the metal fabricated building) is that there is little to no parking in front. Not to worry; just across the street you can park.Inside the place is pretty small, but for our Saturday afternoon visit, there wasn't much of a crowd, so no waiting for a table or anything. My wife liked the fact that the booth we were in had access to the juke box. As some guys seated in the back watched college basketball on the nice flat panel TV, she cranked up a few tunes to add to the atmosphere.She ordered the regular 1/3lb cheeseburger with everything but onions. We definitely love the way they do the buns - heated and smashed (or maybe mashed is the correct terminology) but I don't know why, that particular style says, "Diner" and we like that.I ordered the 1/2lb mushroom burger with swiss. They definitely don't skimp on the mushrooms and the lettuce, tomatoes and such all were fresh.I ordered a medium onion ring for us to share, but they put them all on my plate - I guess that is a basket saving feature. Either way, the onion rings are certainly forgettable. There ought to be some sort of international onion ring texture naming convention so you know what you are getting when you order rings. I am totally opposed to hard, crispy onion rings coatings. Even if there is no discernible taste or seasoning to the batter you use (like these), I can live with it if the coating is not breaking my teeth to get to the onion inside.

The onion rings at Clear Springs are good. The onion rings at Armadillo's seem like something you get in the lunch room at school. If the main en tree, in this case the burger, isn't spectacular (it wasn't bad - just not GREAT), then the onion rings have to make the difference. Great service though.
Look, if you are downtown and would like a neat place to have a burger (I hear from others they have awesome hot dogs), give them a try. The atmosphere is nice and I could see meeting friends for a few beers after shopping or something. But having said that, unless it is convenient, I know a Whataburger that will make it any way you want it, and the onion rings are a lot better.

Friday, March 21, 2008

River Walk Construction Update: Back at it...

I had to drop down to the office downtown this afternoon and thought I'd take a few happy snaps of the ongoing construction of the new addition to the San Antonio River Walk. It is looking good - even now that the water has been removed.I love the look.

GNWCIA Report: Nothing to Report...

Last night I made the short trip down the street to the Lodge of the Great Northwest to attend the meeting of the board of directors of the Great Northwest Community Improvement Association and really, there was nothing worth mentioning. Aside from me, only two residents and a security guard to keep us under control showed. The directors not only got through the entirety of the business without controversy, they even held the closed meeting portion in front of the assembled crowd, though I confess I left before it was officially over.
One item that I will look into a bit further was brought up regarding a neighborhood kid who saw some other yout's doing graffiti. Supposedly, the kid intervened and as you might imagine, caused some grief for him. The directors would like to recognize this young person and that, friends, is a great thing.

Other than that - notta!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why Northern Tool Rocks!

I can't even tell you about this without mentioning right up front that it was all my wife's idea. Okay? Is that good enough?

Okay, maybe a little more.

I confess that I would not have even taken the time to drive over to Northern Tool this evening if my wife had not pushed and pushed and pushed for me to do so. I was actually taking a nap when she re-read the warranty on my screwed up pressure sprayer and told me that the 800 number was open until 9PM EST. So is everyone clear? My wife gets credit for this.

Now onto the story.

About 18 months ago, I went to Northern Tool and Equipment, a place I had already been fond of, to purchase a pressure washer. If there is any doubt in your mind that I am a cheapskate (and that is no reflection on Norther Tool, mind you), several friends had told me to spend the money and buy an engine powered pressure washer, not the electric one, but of course, I bought the electric one.

For some reason, and I still don't know why, I paid the $23.00 to purchase a 2 year extended warranty. This is behavior unlike me, unless it is something really cheap, like and extra $3 or $5 added to the price. And usually, I don't even remember to activate the warranty, but again, for some reason, I did this time.
Now, fast-forward to this past weekend when my wife was using the pressure washer on a project she has been working on, and the thing goes Tango Uniform big time. The motor would not cycle down and the power would not turn off. In fairness, I figured we just used the thing enough that it was time to break. I paid $199.00 for it which I figured out the first time I used it, was way too much, but we used it a lot. I was satisfied to just toss it out or give it to my brother-in-law and let him work on it or something.

My wife on the other hand needed the pressure washer for her project. And, she knew it was under warranty. Between Sunday and today, she kept asking me about it. In fact, she went so far as to go to a pawn shop and price a used one, just to show she meant business.

So let me cut to the chase here; she hates it when I drag these stories out, and in fairness, this is her story. I had called the 800 number found on the broken pressure washer and they closed at 5PM eastern. But my wife looked at the warranty and found a different number to call that was open until 8PM.

At 7PM, I called the number, talked to some guy who asked a few identification questions, then he gave me a confirmation number. I asked him what was next and he told me to take the broken washer back to the store and give them my receipt and the confirmation number. Bad news. I have the receipt, but I just have no idea where on earth it could be. No problem. He told me to give them the conformation number.

At 7:15PM, we are headed down Culebra - they close at 8PM. Even on the way there, I was sure that there would be a hassle. I was convinced there was some conspiracy that involved me having to pay some sort of pro-rated, additional $198 to get a full refund or something, or they would first want to have it in the shop for three months to work on it.

We arrive at Northern and bring in the washer. I hand the lady my printed out warranty (from an e-mail that I had somehow managed to save from 18 months ago) with the confirmation number jotted down on it. The nice lady at the register calls her manager and of course, I'm thinking this is where the story turns south.

A phone call and some clicks in the computer and the lady is saying, "Grab a new one" and to be honest, I was waiting for her to laugh and say, "Psych!" But she didn't.

As I was walking over to grab a new one, I asked almost jokingly if they would give me a credit toward a better model and she just nodded and said, "Of course."

WTF? I gotta tell you, I seriously started looking for the hidden camera because I was sure my wife had set this whole thing up and Alan Funt was on his way out to slap me across the face, point out the Candid Camera and call me the dumbest idiot in town.

Instead, after a few minutes of paper work a new extend warranty (hell yeah!) and some oil, I write a check for $143.00 and I'm on my way to the loading dock to pick up a new Honda 2600 PSI Pressure Washer!
Even as we waited at the back door for the guy to put air in the tires, I was still thinking it was too good to be true. But sure enough, we came home and fired that puppy up just before 9PM (sorry to my neighbors for that) and in the morning, my wife will be in action.

I rarely have something good to say about retail places. Northern Tool and Equipment gets a huge thumbs up! And my wife gets a little pat on the back for making me take the washer back rather than throwing it in the trash.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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