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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Strange On the Way Home...

Not really strange per se, but I did notice a few things on my way from work this evening.
I was at my downtown office today and on the way home, I got in more traffic than I normally have to deal with. Interestingly enough, this KSAT 12 billboard caught my eye. We are KENS-5 folks, so I don't really pay much attention to News4 or KSAT, but my recollection of Ursula Pari from when she was married to WOAI's Randy Beamer, was that she looked a little older and more conservative. See her station photo here. Is it just me or have they attempted to spice her up a bit since the divorce? And by the way, I think they did some airbrush work on Greg Simmons, too.

But who pays attention to these details.
Oh, the other thing that caught my eye was this little mishap on the corner of Old Grissom and Culebra. Apparently, they need to get some turning lane stripes sooner rather than later. This lady sure needed them. How do you even explain that? Didn't the little orange signs give even a slight hint? At least she seemed okay.

I know; not so Strange...

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Monday Update...Moth, Jone's Washateria, Timber Path Bridge

This is sort of weird, I guess. How do you feel about really huge moths?
We walked out the front door on Sunday to find this specimen sitting there, perched on a brick on our front patio. Moths aren’t like butterflies in my book. A butterfly, I have no problem with delicately grabbing by closed wings and inspecting. Moths like this, though extremely interesting to look at just give me the heebie-jeebies.

What are the heebie-jeebies anyway?

I usually have at least one lunch or dinner report over the weekend, but in spite of our desire to take a drive or try out a new place, I had work commitments on both Saturday and Sunday. How do you like that? I'm fine with it. My company never asks me to do any overtime and they treat me quite well, thanks. If I need to suck it up and help out, I'm cool with it. We'll see how my wife feels about it during the next several weeks. Yikes!

I don’t know why I thought of this, but years ago, probably 12 or 13 years ago, I had a web page called “The Jones Washateria Home Page” or something like that. In our old hood, there was this self service coin-operated laundry mat and it was connected to a convenience store. There were a few abandoned buildings, a long ago defunct strip-bar, and I think a tattoo parlor.

The really cool thing about it was, the guy who owned the place had his mother working in there. You could take your laundry in there, and instead of sitting there doing it yourself, the mother would wash, dry, fold and iron as if it was a dry cleaning place, but for a lot less.
I don’t want to say this was in a particularly seedy part of San Antonio, but let’s just say, you can certainly see seedy from there. If you waited long enough, you were sure to see some sort of weird action taking place. Drunken people or people on drugs were a common site – not to say that I am above drinking a 40 while folding towels, who amongst us is? But I never associated doing laundry with seeing people lock themselves into the unisex restroom to bathe and sleep.

Anyway, at the time I was trying to teach myself to do HTML (the code that many web pages run on) so I created this Jones Washateria Home Page and posted all sorts of pictures and stories about the things I saw. In a way, I guess this blog was an offshoot of that little project. Taking pictures of goofy things and leaving comments about them.
That washateria closed down several years ago, but I couldn’t help driving by on my way home from work today to see if there was any action. In spite of how the place looks now, it didn’t look a whole lot better back then, but at least there were windows made of plexi-glass so you could look inside the place and decided if the situation looked too dicey to go in or if it was safe enough to do some laundry.

Good times.
I got a text message from regular reader Anon E. Mouse who reported that the bridge at Grissom and Timber Path was now open for business. I suspect the city had read my Friday post and quietly dismissed any further delays. Thank you.

And here is a little celebratory drive across the bridge.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Report: Texting, Birthday, Construction, Food..

Is it Friday already?

It isn’t that I have so much spare time on my hands, but I did read a book this week. I was catching up on things over at Jeff Kay’s WSVR and he had a link to a new book by Jason Mulgrew. Mulgrew is a successful blogger (though I admit, I had never heard of him or visited his blog) but reading the first few pages of the book on Amazon gave me a giggle. If you are between 15 and 25 or you are from Philly, or you are an immature 46 year-old, you might find the book entertaining.

What is the deal with people driving and texting? My wife nearly got creamed by some idiot in the HEB parking lot the other day because he was looking down at his phone and texting while simultaneously driving through the intersection. He probably is still reading his e-mail and has no idea how close he was to requiring a surgical procedure to have her shoe removed from his ass.

On the other hand, I have become more proficient with my own use of the Blackberry. I have actually been posting pictures and comments on my Facebook page, since, like this blog, I had been very neglectful, so at least I’m doing that. Unless you are driving around and texting, who has time for all this stuff?

I don’t know if I mentioned it or not, but a few weeks ago, we watched the full Band of Brothers mini-series and loved it. So now, we have been DVR’ing The Pacific, another series from Tom Hanks about WWII. I only mention this because, unlike Band of Brothers, both my wife and I seem to be getting a lot of Blackberry time while watching. Is that a polite way of saying we might not watch the entire thing? I feel almost unpatriotic by confessing such a thing, but really, it just isn’t that good.

Are you like me when it comes to road construction? I don’t really have a problem with construction in general – I mean, it has to happen for things to improve. My complaint is when they are basically done with a project but refuse to finish the last little touches, purposely to piss me off.
Take the bridge at Timber Path and Grissom. By any reasoned observation, this bridge has been ready for traffic for a few weeks. And, it is as if all work has come to a halt because maybe someone wants to have a ceremony or something to open it up. Screw that. Open the damn bridge. I don’t mean to be testy, but seriously, you just know it is something ridiculous holding up progress.

Like if you go to a restaurant and order, then ten minutes later you see your food sitting on the counter. The cook has rung his little bell to alert the waitress, but the waitress is sitting there yacking with someone or texting her friends. Bitch, get my vittles!

Sorry, I don’t really talk like that to waitresses or women in general, but that stupid bridge at Timber Path is just waiting for me to drive across and some goofy person is yacking on a cell phone or something like that, and I am not pleased.

Here is an interesting little fact you may not know. Last weekend, our little dog Panda started barking and generally freaking out around 2 or 3 in the morning. Just so you’ll know, the bigger dog, Gracie, maintained her position, quietly snoring as if there was no cause for concern. Jolted out of a sound sleep, I got up and followed Panda to a balcony that overlooks our front yard and looked for anything of a suspicious nature. I concluded that she was probably having a bad dream and told her to go back to bed.

Fast forward to Tuesday, the first day my wife drove her truck since Friday, and she had found that some culprit had opened her vehicle, rummaged through the glove compartment and such, and stole a CD case containing a number of CD’s. Of course, we broke the two golden rules of making it easy for crooks; first we left the truck unlocked and second, we left something in the unlocked vehicle that someone might want to steal. We now surmise that Panda was being a good guard dog and probably made the thief skedaddle.

Oh, and upon hearing of this incident, my daughter suggested that we continue to leave the truck unlocked and the thieves, upon realizing what a collection of duds they had stolen would surely return the CD case and all the contents.

You do have to wonder what makes a person risk getting shot for such little booty. I don’t think I’m a vengeful person, but I confess to having high-fived more than once upon hearing about people getting shot while trying to do something stupid. Queue the 10PM news and the crying mother, “He was such a good boy; he had only been arrested a few times before. They didn’t have to shoot him over a bunch of crappy CD’s.

High-five to that!

Speaking of people I would like to shoot... Does anyone know what CJBanks is? About a month ago, I started receiving a daily Spam message from this CJBanks. Of course, Thunderbird flags it as junk mail and I delete it without reading it, but I have never had a single spammer so consistent in their efforts to have me click on them. I wonder if someone is trying to give me a hint! Whatever.
And speaking of people who should go to jail, what do you make of this? I was driving down Tezel the other day and noticed that someone had been "pulled over". I'm guessing they weren't just selling tickets to the policeman's ball.
Have you ever come across someone dead in a parking lot? We were at HEB and there was a guy passed out in his car. He looked fairly dead and in fact, my wife started to smell that smell when people begin to sit there for a while waiting for the CSI's. Anyway, I decided to honk the horn and see if he would move. I did but he failed to respond at all. So naturally, you would think that we would immediately proceed to call 9-1-1 or try to perform CPR. We made the better choice of mentioning the dead guy to the 16 year-old kid collecting shopping carts. When we came back outside after shopping, the dead guy and his car were both gone.

Did I mention that Saturday is my wife’s birthday? I’m thinking a trip to HEB for something nice is in order. If the weather works out, I just might let her take a few laps with my new John Deere this weekend. Am I the thoughtful husband, or what?
Of course, our neighbors are far more original than I am, and they took us out Friday afternoon to Texas Road House to celebrate the big day. I shan't boor you with pictures of the plates of food on the table - you know how we feel about TRH already. And of course, they made the birthday girl ride the child's booster chair/saddle. Caution, a ride like that could cause a wardrobe malfunction.
But this is something you don't see everyday. Yes, that is a full tray of someone's dinner on the ground. And I witnessed the entire spectacle. Unlike that time we were at Bennigan's and we witnessed an unruly child knock a tray of drinks from a waitress, today, this was a self-inflicted stumble that resulted in juicy, delicious, slightly overcooked steak landing on the floor. I feel so bad for the waitress, but not bad enough to resist sharing this picture.

And there you have it. I think I'm ready to commence the weekend, though I have a whole lot of work and birthday action to take care of, I do hope to visit some of the regular Blogs and catch up on things.

If you have anything good to report - like shooting thieves, birthdays or spilling trays of food, why not leave a comment by clicking on the button below?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ride in the Country Report: Hwy 97...

My wife and I did it to ourselves again. We piddled around all morning thinking that we would eat some breakfast, and by the time we realized it was noon, we didn't want to waste a good opportunity to eat lunch. So we both ate a cracker with cheese on it, jumped in the truck and headed for La Vernia, a small town east of China Grove, which is a sleepy little town down around, ahem, San Antone.

By the way, it is said that real Texans never say "San Antone", but I assure you, I've heard it quite a bit in my roughly twenty-five years here. And if it is good enough for George Strait, I suspect the Doobie Brothers can get away with it.

Anyway, we have been looking at the Internet recently and people who offer properties for sale often place the actual addresses of said homes with maps leading to the places. Please don't misunderstand; it isn't as if we are moving or anything, but we have always enjoyed taking drives and looking at places that would make a nice, relaxing place to mow a yard for three or four hours a week.

We headed out Hiway 90 and picked up Hiway 87 directly through the east side of town, through China Grove and into La Vernia. Cute place. My wife was Facebook'ing our trip (how modern are we?) and one of her friends who lives there offered dining selections for the local area.
Anyway, we liked the look of La Vernia but had a hankerin to check out some properties in Floresville, just across the way down Hiway 97. And this was where we saw some really spectacular views. The weather here got really crappy the past few days (including a little potential hail damage/new roof action) but today was spectacular from the inside of a truck.
The drive along Hiway 97 was just incredible, warranting several stops along the side of the road for pictures. In fact, we saw one guy pulled over taking pictures in a primo spot, but I wasn't about to be a buttinski, so instead I took a picture of him taking pictures.

You hear a lot about the famous Bluebonnets in Texas and the project by Lady Bird Johnson to beautify the state. It must have worked out, because in addition to bluebonnets, we saw the Indian Paintbrush (do you suppose that is an offensive name for Native Americans who don't like college football mascots either?) and other varieties.
I also like trees and creeks, and we saw a few of those too. I know, not as pretty as the horses and flowers, but I always think that if I'm out in the middle of nowhere and I have to pee really bad, that creek looks pretty muddy as it is, so, why not?
When we got to Floresville, we decided to take a drive into the downtown area and even considered lunch at the White House Cafe, but it was closed. (Sorry RB, we'll get there sooner or later.) We were so happy with Cow Camp BBQ from a few weeks ago, that we ate there again.
On our ride out along Hiway 181 back to San Antonio, we stopped into a few ranch sub-divisions. Shannon Ridge and Bentwood. These are a few pictures we took in Bentwood. Good stuff.

In the end, we ate breakfast/lunch (Brunch, if you will) at around 2:30 or so. But it was a nice drive.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Strange in My Doritos...

Does anyone care to explain this little situation?
My wife decided to treat herself to a modest serving of Doritos this evening when she interrupted my important book reading screaming, "Get your camera, we've hit the Lottery!" Okay, that isn't an exact quote, but there was some initial speculation on our part about the exact nature and chemical make-up of the Dorito Mass found in the bag, and what reasonable compensation one might garner in return for not making it the focus of a blog entry.
Of course, upon further inspection, we realized it was just a bunch of Dorito dust all globbed together in the bag. I'm not looking to sue, but instead, I'm think this might be good crumbled up and sprinkled on eggs in the morning.


Have you found any foreign objects in your food? Do tell! Leave a comment if you'd like - just click the button below.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dinner Report: Carl's Jr On Bandera Road...

Thursday has turned into fast-food night for us and usually, that means What-a-Burger. Tonight, we had business on Bandera Road in Leon Valley to get some plants for the yard, and we had our nephew with us. He saw some coupons for Carl's Jr., and we were off.
Carl's Jr. opened here about four months ago. It seems like they had a Carl's Jr. over by Lackland in what is now the Taco Cabano on Hwy 90 and Military, twenty years ago, but they left.
Inside, the place was teaming with crew members holding doors, welcoming guests, passing out menus and taking orders. In spite of a group of folks in front of us, a cashier got our attention and motioned us over to take our order. Not only did they give a 10% military discount, they girl looked through my wife's coupon book and looked for the most money saving option. The three of us ate for $13.00, not bad at all.

There were TV's on the wall and the place was very clean. Speaking of military discounts, we saw a waitress approach a gentleman seated near us and seeing his Navy cap, shook his hand and thanked him for his service.
This has never happened to me before. We paid for the vittles, grabbed the cups and headed to the drink machine to grab sodas and an employee came walking out with our order. I wanted to verify the number several times because I could not believe that the order hand been assembled that fast. The girl followed me around until I could choose a table to sit in. Then, throughout our meal, we had a minimum of four visits from different staff members asking us if we needed anything, offering to take discarded wrappers or refill our drinks. I seriously thought we were being filmed for Undercover Boss, because these people were unbelievably awesome in every way.
Okay, about the food. I had the Jalapeno burger. Let's be honest. Doesn't hold a candle to What-a-Burger. But it was a lot cheaper. The onion rings are like BK onion rings, only you get them 15 minutes sooner. But this is fast food, not Lord's Kitchen.
We were pleased to see they had a Mariachi band serenading the customers. It turns out, this group Trio Los Yaquis is the same group we have hired at least five or six times over the years for Mother's Day, weddings, anniversaries and that type of thing. They played three songs for us and then would not accept a tip. How cool is that?

I went up and spoke to the manager to tell him how great things were and asked if this was the grand opening or something, and he told me they do this all the time - they even have Karaoke night.

Without losing sight of the fact that this is still fast-food, I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see a business and the employees just bending over backwards to make the customers welcome and want to come back. Hell, I'm prepared to try everything on the menu (not in one sitting of course) just because of the fantastic experience we had. Don't you wish some of the more expensive places you visit would give customer service a try?

By the way, if you have never had it, try the Carl's Jr. Breakfast Bowls. When I was in LA for a week a few years ago, I had them every morning. Simply awesome.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Helpful Shopping Tips...

It has never been my intent to ramble on about the obvious distractions and complaints we all share; you know, tailgaters, people who drive too slow in the fast lane, and jerks who still write checks at stores; but at some point in time, a guy with a blog can only take so much before he must put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard.

Just the other day, my wife and I were at HEB Plus trying to get through the place without killing anyone. We find ourselves on the bread aisle, and for some reason, the HEB people have decided to make the bread aisle about 3 feet wide. So there is a lady on the left side of the aisle with a shopping cart intently fondling bread like the loaves were rolls of Charmin, and on the right side, just in front of us was a lady with a cart almost touching the Charmin lady simply standing there. Imagine two ships in a narrow canal passing one another but freeze frame that thought at the exact moment where I can't possibly pass on one side or another, nor between the two. If it helps, feel free to hum the tune "Rock'a My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham" and you'll get the point.

I am a very calm person and frankly, now that I have a Blackberry, I can wait. Hell, I was ready to Bing the meaning of life, but my wife alerted me to the fact (very loudly I must report) that the lady with the shopping cart in front of us was talking on her phone. Are. You. Shitting. Me? Who picks the narrowest aisle in HEB Plus, a place that has an entire library complete with 50 cent vibrating recliners and couches as well as an entire cafeteria just a few feet away to simply stop moving and have a phone conversation?

I know this post is useless without pictures, but instead of whipping out the camera, I had to keep my wife from physically killing someone. Thankfully, the lady blocking the way moved a few aisles over to continue her shop-blocking. Seriously, a situation involving police, ambulances and Eyewitness Wants to Know was narrowly averted.

But there's more.

Just this evening, I had to run to the HEB by our house to grab just a few items. If you must know, I needed some shampoo, some coffee creamer, and just for good measure, some beer. Of course, three items qualifies me for the Express Lane and better yet, the self service check out lanes.

I don't mean to sound like a broken record but people, please, there are a few things you need to know about the self-check-out lanes, and I'm sorry to be the jerk that has to tell you.

  • First and foremost, get the hell off your phone before you start trying to self-check yourself out.
  • Understand the concept of how the self check-out works: The bags are sitting on a scale. When it says to place the item you just scanned in the bag, what they really mean is: place the item on the scale so we can confirm that you did not remove the label off of a piece of gum and place it on a thick steak. If the item does not weigh what it should on the scale, they know you have stolen something.
  • See comment about scale above. Do not let your 4 year old sit on the scale.
  • When you purchase Bananas, you should weigh it and get a PLU label made in the fruit and vegetables section that you can scan in the self-check-out line. Otherwise, know that the look up code for bananas is 4011. I know this because I eat a banana everyday.
  • When you scan your items, the scanner doesn't simply recognize the difference between your jar of Dippity-Doo and your bottle of Jheri-Curl, it actually relies on the little bar code label printed on the item. It helps if you try to scan the item with that label facing the scanner.
  • I've been guilty of this, but it still doesn't make it right: Do not use crumpled bills. If you must use cash, do not attempt to pay with exact change. The people behind you in line do not want to wait for you to feed $8 worth of pennies, nickles and dimes into the slot, especially when you have to sort through your loose change and separate it from lint and candy wrappers. Use your debt card and save us all some time.
  • I already think it is a bad idea to load up all 6 kids and the cousins too to go grocery shopping, but if you must, send the kids to the vending machines in the front of the store while you check out. A crowd around the self-check-out only makes everyone nervous.
  • Finally, if you are a beginner, start with only one or two items, and only attempt to use the machine when the store is not busy at all. I swear, I am sick and tired of standing in line for 12 minutes while four amateurs, all with full shopping carts are trying to use the self check-out for the first time. Standing there and staring at it won't make it work any better.
I suspect you might have some shopping tips of your own. Feel free to leave a comment and get it off your chest too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

You Know How I Despise Horatio Cane...

I am physically unable to watch CSI: Miami because of Horatio Cane. Apparently, the people at CBS realize how ridiculous that character is, so they have been good sports about people making fun of him.

This guy, in my opinion, nailed the David Caruso character. You can see more of these Horatio impersonators at CBS.

Random Video Report: Happy Birthday...

Our son is 24 today...

We have been playing this song for him every year for at least the last 22 years. Last year it was by phone, this year via the Internet and with video!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Notes: Timber Path and BK...

I'll make an attempt to catch up at some point in time, but I don't think it will be any time soon. My routine of trying to make at least one blog entry per day has fallen by the wayside in favor of attempts to at least visit and comment on some of my favorite blogs during the week, and just maybe a few notes here on the weekend. Not to worry; all this business of being busy has to come to an end some time.

And for you conspiracy theorists: no, I am not doing community service! Geeze!
How's this for an enthusiastic update: The bridge at Timber Path and Grissom should be done sometime soon. I say should be, but that could mean months.

We did something really stupid this evening. My wife and I both did some volunteer work. I could leave it at that and it would be the truth, but in fairness, my wife did about 10 hours of volunteer work and I did about 45 minutes worth. And really, it wasn't stupid.

Anyway, it was close to 7PM and we were hungry and with it being Friday and all, we decided to hit someplace convenient for some fish. I suggested Bill Millers, but she suggested Mr. Cod. Yes, that Mr. Cod. When we got to the intersection of Grissom and Timber Path, we could see that Mr. Cod, Bill Millers What-a-Burger and even Pizza Hut were all packed. Yes, I realize that Pizza Hut doesn't serve fish, even on Fridays during Lent, but the point being that all the places to eat were full.
So we went to Burger King.

I should tell you upfront that in the Ginger vs. Mary Ann game, I'm with Mary Ann. In the Burger King vs. McDonald's game, I'm with 'Donald. So even though my instincts told me to go into McDonald's, I didn't want to cross traffic, and I just assumed they would be completely packed like all the other fish serving restaurants on a Friday night in Lent. I took the easy route and pulled into BK seeing only three vehicles in the drive-thru, but almost nobody in the lobby.
Of course, I thought going inside the empty lobby would be a lot more romantic for my wife, so I parked and we went in. She appreciates me for the small things I do.

There was one lady in line in front of us and she very well may have been ordering for an hour before we got there for all I know. It was really a slow process. A Spanish only speaker, she seemed to be needing a translation of everything on the menu. In fairness, I know that sometimes when I go to a Mexican restaurant, I need help with the menu. Let's see, Huevos con Bacon, Huevos con sausage, Huevos con lingua, Huevos con frijoles. I often have to ask the waitress if they have anything with eggs. I just wanted to scream, "POINT TO THE PICTURE OF WHAT YOU WANT!" But I didn't.

We did finally order and within the time that we got our drinks and a seat, the lady who had taken so long to order got her food and was out the door. Fully ten minutes later, they called our number and our order was ready. I guess it makes sense that you would cook the fish to order on a Friday night during Lent in San Antonio TX, but who would have thought you had to go catch it, fillet it, bread it, freeze it, ship it, and then cook it?

Be honest. Do I sound a little cranky?
The onion rings at BK leave a disturbing aftertaste. My wife ordered them, not me, but she forced me to eat some just to be polite. If it isn't too late, I finally have decided to give something up for Lent. Fair enough?
So we get the fish sammiches and the buns look pretty good, and I guess even the plank'o'fish was okay looking. There was some lettuce and a slight smattering of tartar sauce. A smattering is the opposite of a slathering in my book. So with pictures taken, I commenced to wolf down my BK Fish while it was still hot.
My wife on the other hand took one bite of her's and basically gave me the "Oh, Hell No" look that she is prone to give when things aren't correct. She marched back up to the counter and returned with Dixie cups full of additional condiments including a full tomato, sliced. Let's just say, she had it her way. meanwhile, I ate a Junior Whopper while she added some tarter sauce to her fish and tomato sandwich.

While we were eating, one of the managers called out a number for someone who had come in after us. We were the only people in the lobby, but in the play area just beyond the main lobby, there was a guy talking on the phone as his kids played. So, when the lady called the number and looked at me, I gave the universal sign for, "Not Me" by taking a bite of my sandwich. In my mind, and I admit, I might just be smarter than at least 25 percent of the people in this country - only the census will tell me for sure - but if there are only two tables with customer in the store and one of the tables has people eating, the order that is up must belong to the other table. Is my math right on this?

The manager called the number a few more times but the people who were eating (us) didn't respond and the people who were seated at the table in the play area didn't notice so the manager just shrugged her shoulders and said, "Oh well, I called the number."

That explains the empty lobby on a Friday night. Meanwhile, the trickle of cars in the drive-thru caused such a back-up that they had to ask customers to pull around to the front door. An employee would walk the food out of the store into the parking lot for a drive-thru customer, but the manager of the place couldn't walk the tray of food 30 feet to the guy waiting in the play area in the lobby.

Did I mention that I am a big fan of that new show, Undercover Boss? My only complaint with that show is that they do not fire incompetent people on film. In fact, in real life, that is the only place you can be caught in the act of being terrible at your job and NOT be fired. I guess they figure the chance of a lawsuit just isn't worth it. Regardless, the Burger King Undercover Boss needs to visit the BK on Tezel Rd, 'cause I sure as hell never will again.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Stimulating the Economy: $550 Vacuum Cleaner...

In my wildest dreams, I could not imagine forking out five-hundred bucks for a vacuum cleaner. I'm the guy who drinks generic beer and HEB brand water. I drove a $500 pick-up truck until I was into my thirties. My desktop PC is a refurbished Dell from PC Outlet. It isn't that I'm a cheapskate; I just hate to spend money on expensive things.

But my wife and I have had plans to make several key purchases this year. In spite of the fact that the IRS people refused to stimulate our personal economy, we decided it was time to pull the trigger and go shopping.

First, we took her little truck to have a tune-up done. The vehicle has 90K miles on it and as far as I know (we bought it used) it had never had the plugs changed. Last year, we took it to a small shop on Bandera Road to have the A/C clutch replaced and the guys did the work quickly and the A/C works, so I figured I'd give them another shot. You know if you take a vehicle with 90K on it to the Ford Dealership, it will be expensive, so I figured the local shop would be cheaper.
In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined paying over $400 to change the spark plugs, wires and air filter on a Ford Ranger. I still want to have the fuel filter replaced, but if I need another kick to the Jimmy, I'll take it to the Ford place.

Next, we went to Lowe's to pick-up a new lawn mower. I have a Weedeater brand push mower that I have been really happy with, but ever since I ran over a stump and it just hasn't been the same. Neither has the stump. I would have been happy to go into Wal Mart and buy another mower for $99 and be done with it, but my wife had her mind made up that she wanted our next mower to be a John Deere. This may come as a shock to you, but Wal Mart doesn't sell John Deere mowers, and more importantly, you can't find a John Deere mower for $99.
In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would pay this kind of money for a mower that doesn't have a seat and a steering wheel, but $350 later, the mower looks so good, I don't even want t use it. I may just continue to use the old mower and put the Deere on display like a yard ornament.

And of course, you can't buy a new mower and not also purchase a new weedeater. I have had the same Weedeater brand Featherlite that I bought 12 or 13 years ago. It still fires up (after a while) but I have realized over the years that my lower back hurts when I use it, not because it is heavy (in fact - it is feather light) but because the shaft is too short for me.

We went into Home Depot and for the first time in recent memory, we not only had a person approach us to ask if we needed assistance, but the lady sat there for a solid twenty minutes and sold us on purchasing an Echo with a straight shaft. Am I the only person who has seen some sort of customer service transformation in Home Depot, now that we have a Lowe's right across the street? Anyway, anyone who knows anything about weedeaters (or string trimmers) knows that the Echo is the Mac Daddy of them all. Twelve or 13 years ago, I paid $79 for my Featherlite.
In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would pay $219 for a weedeater, but I did and if the sun would come out, I'd go trim something.

Finally, the most important decision of the day was upon us. We had kidded around for a long while about buying one of these new Dyson vacuums. If you go look at the display model in the store, the first thing you will notice (besides the sticker shock) is that the device is all plastic. It looks really, really cheaply made. We pulled down all the display models to really try to understand the different prices for what you get.

There was one model and I forget who makes it, but it specifically catered to people with pets. It was only $179. Honestly, that is about the most I would even consider paying for a vacuum cleaner, considering our entire downstairs is tile. We looked at a lower end Dyson (only about $325) and it did not have any discussion on pet hair on the box. When it came down to decision time, I thought we could get the $179 pet vacuum cleaner and also purchase some special hand held unit for another $30 that was also supposedly perfect for pets. Then my wife gave me that look. You know, the look that says, "You just spent $350 on a mower and $220 on a weedeater and now you want to buy a piece of crap vacuum cleaner?"
In my wildest dreams, I could not imagine forking out five-hundred bucks for a vacuum cleaner. $549 later, I'm here to tell you that the Dyson Ball DC25 is worth every penny. My wife had just vacuumed a few days ago and when we tried out the Dyson, it picked up so much dog hair that we had to empty the little reservoir eight or nine times. It was unbelievable how much that thing was picking up. We could start a little doggy wig factory here.

So there you have it. I've done my part to stimulate the economy. We can't single-handedly keep all the restaurants and home improvement stores in business, so get out there and buy something.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thanks KSAT-12: You Ruined LOST!

I know that you could consider me typical of people in society today where I am less interested in knowing minute by minute details of the Texas Primaries, and more interested in seeing an hour long re-run of last weeks LOST episode with pop-ups to explain all the crap that I didn't understand the first time around. My wife and I both did our civic duty today and voted, so now leave me the hell alone and quit playing those stupid political commercials.

LOST learned a thing or two from Monday Night Football back when Dennis Miller was one of the commentators. They knew that he was entirely too smart for us viewers, so they actually had Internet columns posted Tuesday mornings, explaining all the funny stuff Miller had said the night before.
Now, with LOST, they are showing the previous episode complete with little pop-ups (sort of like VH1's old Pop-Up Video where they would play a song and trivia about it at the same time). This hour of reflection is crucial for us to understand what the hell the writers were thinking last week, and to prepare us for the new episode coming on tonight.
Of course, if your local news station, KSAT-12 in our case, decides to screw me over by blocking the informative captions with uninteresting, up to the minute voting information that is not important anyway, after all, you still have to hold the real election, it shows that they are complete morons. Notice the slight edge of green just above the election banner? That tells me that I am missing a crucial piece of information. (And yes, I'm happy that Delicia Herrera didn't win, but that is beside the point).

Seriously, do you people at KSAT not even know what it is you are showing on TV and the crucial point - in fact the only point - people would watch a rerun? Here's a bright idea? Why don't you interrupt Grey's Anatomy with Erectile Dysfunction images during the middle of some scene where two doctors are being naughty in the locker room. That would make about as much sense.

KSAT, you people disgust me. Except for Ursula Pari.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lunch Report: Cow Camp Bar-B-Q in Floresville...

I am almost certain that a regular reader here sent me an e-mail suggesting we give Cow Camp Bar-B-Q in Floresville a try the next time we were in the area, but I don't recall who. Or, it could be that they suggested another place and we just ended up at Cow Camp instead. Either way, thanks for the tip, whoever you were.
An interesting thing about Cow Camp Bar-B-Q. They are located directly next door to another BBQ Place called Lazy J Bar-B-Q. They both must be pretty good because they both have been in business for a while according to our waitress.
Anyway, the inside of the place is unremarkable as BBQ places go. We liked the hardwood floor (lumber) and the coziness of it all. I don't expect you would drive all the way to Floresville for the ambiance but in case you do go, it was clean and the folks seemed friendly.
My wife ordered up a chicken plate with mac & cheese and ranch style beans. The sides were fine and she especially enjoyed the cheesy mac & cheese. We have been to quite a few BBQ places and I always find the chicken to be good tasting. This chicken was outstanding and it was so tender and juicy, something you might not expect when the chicken has been smoked for a long period of time. My wife has one rule of thumb when it comes to meats at a place like this; if it needs sauce, it isn't good. This chicken needs no sauce, but once you have established that for yourself, go ahead and throw on just a taste of the in-house made BBQ sauce. It did not overpower the beautiful chicken , but simply added wonderfully to it. By the way, if it is hard to tell in the picture, there was a half a chicken on that plate, easily enough for two people.
I went with a two meat platter testing out the brisket and the pork ribs. My sides were green beans and potato salad. Both sides were very acceptable, though I would not categorize either as the best I have had. I did like the fact that the potato salad did not have too much of a pickle taste to it, and in fact it was very creamy and good. The brisket was fantastic. Again, no sauce required. There was a hint of smoke but not overwhelming in any fashion. The pork ribs were simply awesome. Assuming our visit was not some sort of fluke, these are among the best pork ribs I have had in the area. With or without the house sauce, they were cooked to perfection and the taste was just outstanding.
The portions were very generous and the price was standard for what you would expect at any BBQ place. We filled a take-away box with half the chicken, several ribs and a smidgen of brisket. But I couldn't bare to let the bread and pickles and onions and sauce go to waste, so I did what comes natural.
Of course, it would be rude to drive all the way to Floresville and not get some apple and peach cobbler to take home. Both desserts were very good.
If you happen be in the area or just feel like a nice drive to Floresville, stay on 181 and head in to Cow Camp Bar-B-Q for a seriously Tasty Treat.

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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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