Saturday, March 31, 2007


The folks have raved and raved -- 300 is (apparently) the best movie out there. It's done well at the box office, and people are talking about it. Heck, I'm writing about it here. I'm doing this, though, as a public service to you, my readers. Ignore the hype.

If you like plot and character development and touching moments, don't go see this movie. If you like blood and shiny things, feel free to spend your money -- or go see a jewelry store and hang out in an emergency room.

The whole point of this movie is gratuitousness. Gratuitous voiceovers, gratuitous nudity, gratuitous gore, gratuitous monster makeup, and gratuitous use of the slow-motion camera. I was so underwhelmed by a movie that just tried too hard to be The Matrix. Sorry -- this one is no ground-breaking film. And if they'd just made the slow-motion parts go in full speed, I'd have lost a half-hour less of my life.

Consider yourself warned.

Saying Goodbye to Favorite Places

We've sold the house, one of the cars, and lots of furniture. We've packed up both offices and everything else we have. The utilities and gym membership are cancelled. We've said lots of good-byes, and then it was time to hit up most of our favorite restaurants for the last time for a while.

It's important to find these favorite places early on in your time in a city, so if you're new in town, let me give you that info so you can discover them while you have time to enjoy them. For seafood, I love Truluck's and Gumbo's. It's hard to get good seafood so far from the ocean, but these places do well. Near work, I had to hit up Silhouette for sushi happy hour. Other types of happy hours were completed at Saba Blue Water Cafe and Speakeasy. For Mexican food, we've said good-bye to Curra's and Chuy's. We've grabbed burgers and corn dogs at Top Notch. There were last Indian meals at Taj Palace, Vietnamese food at Tan Tan, and Singapore curry noodles from Din Ho. Cake from Bakerman's Bakery was consumed. Today I'm headed out for the best dim sum in the city at T&S Seafood. This evening, it's barbecue at The Salt Lick. It's been a couple of weeks of Mmmmmmmm.

I guess the loose ends are pretty well tied up, and the pants are tightened up (who needs a belt!). I think we're ready to drive 1500 miles across the Southwest United States. When we get to Santa Barbara, we'll be hungry again, I would imagine. If you have suggestions of great places we'll want to eat, let me know in the comments -- return the favor of all the great suggestions I've provided above! We're starting over and there will certainly be hits and misses as we look. We just want to find good new places soon, so we can enjoy them as long as we can, and hopefully as much as we've enjoyed the food here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Season is Over

I got to go to the last Aggie basketball game of the season on Thursday. It was great to be there, but it was so stressful to watch. When we lost by the single point, I cried a little. It was a great season, and I'm sad for it to be over.

The rest of the teams aren't all the exciting to watch. I watch the tournament for the upsets and to root for the little guys. There are none of those left.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

First Round Review

We've made it through our first 33 games. Here's a recap of how I did with predicting exciting games in this first round.

  • Arizona vs. Purdue This wasn't the best 8/9 matchup -- that title fell to the 2-point Xavier win over BYU.

  • Butler vs. Old Dominion ODU didn't upset, but I guess with no 12 seed upsets in the tournament this year, I could still claim that this was the most likely.

  • Maryland vs. Davidson Again, no 13s upset 4s, but this was a good game for 35 minutes, until Maryland finally pulled away.

  • Notre Dame vs. Winthrop Winthrop delivered! This was a fun game to watch.

  • Nevada vs. Creighton Surprisingly, all the 7 seeds won their games. This was the most exciting, though, as the only overtime game in the first round.

  • Texas A&M vs. Penn My Aggies, unfortunately, delivered on a stressful game to watch, even allowing those Quakers to take the lead for a while. I was quaking in my shoes (I'm trying to be a sports writer or commentator, using lame lines). Thankfully, I have good breath-holding skills these days, so I was able to will them to win.

I missed that the Duke beating by VCU would be the most exciting upset game of the tournament. I picked VCU to win, but I didn't know it would be such a hotly contested game. Overall, not a bad take, considering that these were the games that I felt were basically tossups. I did alright in my picks. I tried a new system this year, and I'll just have to see how that plays out. In my old system, I finished the first round with a 30 and 3 record. In the new system I'm 26 and 7. I guess the old system's pretty good, but likely means I will be slaughtered in the next round or two. It's virtually impossible to keep that sort of streak going.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

First Round Bracket Preview

I have now created and locked in my various guesses as to how this NCAA Tournament will shake out. As a result of this process, there are a couple of games that I am really looking forward to in just the first round, mostly because I can't decide who will win.

  • Arizona vs. Purdue Statistically, Arizona has the edge, but there is something about those Boilermakers that tells me this is going to be the toughest 8/9 matchup. And 8/9s are a tossup anyway.

  • Butler vs. Old Dominion This seems to be the most likely 12/5 upset, and I just love to watch those games.

  • Maryland vs. Davidson And here we are with the most likely 13/4 upset.

  • Notre Dame vs. Winthrop I just want to see those Eagles kick some Irish butt. It should be a fun one.

  • Nevada vs. Creighton I can't decide who I want to win, but these are some seriously well-matched teams.

  • Texas A&M vs. Penn I have to watch all Aggie games with my breath held, lately.

These are the games I will be watching most closely today and tomorrow, hoping they deliver on my expectations of good, hard-fought battles. Obviously, I'm expecting the most fun in that strong MidWest region -- virtually anyone in that region can win their first-round game, and that makes for great tournament watching. I'm certainly picking other upsets, but I feel pretty confident in those. Good thing lots of games are being broadcast simultaneously, so I don't get bored with stupid stuff like the work I'm being paid to do.

For those of you making your selections based on the mascots in each game, good luck with the Kentucky-Villanova (both Wildcats) and the Louisville-Stanford (both Cardinal(s)) games.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Purple Eagle Love

No one cares about the play-in game of the NCAA Tournament. Most people don't even seem to realize it exists (even among people that follow the tournament). But, regardless of when the tournament bracket selection closes, the tournament starts on Tuesday night.

The first game, last night, pitted the Florida A&M Rattlesnakes against the Niagara Purple Eagles. They played for the opportunity to lose to Kansas in the "first" round. And Niagara won. How many MAAC teams can say they won an NCAA Tournament game? So what if it's before most people even recognize that the Tourney has started -- they got a win. And sometimes that's all a team needs to feel really good about their season.

Also, I picked Niagara to beat Florida A&M, so I'm 1-0 for my bracket, while everyone else is still 0-0. Just sending some props to the Purple Eagles for their win last night. Enjoy it!

When Not to Mind Your Own Business

I recently was driving around in town, and saw two people at a bus stop. One was sitting in a wheelchair bundled up in every piece of clothing they had. This person had a red umbrella resting on their head while they leaned forward on the back of the bus stop bench. As a result, I couldn't tell whether this was a homeless man or woman. The other was a 20ish guy pacing back and forth, waiting for a bus to show up.

It was apparent, though, that something more was going on here. The pacing guy seemed to be trying to figure out whether the homeless person was asleep or dead. I can imagine the conversation he was having in his head.
It's sad that person is just sleeping here at the bus stop. But why are they sleeping at lunchtime? I hope they are okay. But what if they're not? Should I wake him/her up and see if they're okay? If I were sleeping, I wouldn't want to be woken up everytime someone showed up at the bus stop. But if they aren't sleeping, I'd hate for some kid to find a dead person. That'll mess a kid up.

Unfortunately, the light turned green, and I didn't get to watch the pacing guy get to the end of his internal monologue and make a decision. I wonder what he ultimately did.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Not Efficient, But Yummy

Somewhere along the packing up of the house, I realized that nothing in the fridge can be moved. It must all be eaten, given away or thrown away. Those are the options.

I'm a frugal person. When I eat out, I take the leftovers with me to eat later. I'll eat meals of collections of a few bites of leftovers from multiple meals, and think nothing of it. Half an enchilada, three raviolis, half a piece of pizza and a third of a Blizzard makes for a great meal in my book.

I imagine that comes back to my growing up years. I was recently reminded of the summer of the peanut butter sandwich. My dad's a preacher and my mom's a teacher (I know -- high rollers!) and one summer my dad's church couldn't pay him and so we lived on my mom's salary. Teachers' 10-months of salary spread over 12 months are really little. So, apparently after paying the bills that kept a roof over our heads, there wasn't much left for food. As a result, we had the summer of the peanut butter sandwich. We had them every day for lunch and dinner. Sometimes, to mix things up, mom would make peanut butter and butter sandwiches. Oooh, fancy. Anyway, as a result, I don't like to throw away food.

As I perused the freezer of soon-to-be-tossed items, I noticed two packages of lumpia wrappers. Lumpia is the Philippine version of the Chinese egg roll, and is one of my favorite foods on the planet. It takes a long time to chop all the ingredients for the filling, though. And then you have to roll them up in the wrappers. The wrappers are thin and sticky and they dry out really fast. So you have to peel them apart and roll filling into them and put them under a damp cloth in a few minutes or less. In a word, they are putzy food to make. The wrappers are just rice flour and water -- probably $1.50 worth of them in my freezer. My logical husband said I should just throw them away. But that would have wasted perfectly good wrappers! So I spent five hours on an afternoon and made 100 lumpia.

They have been really convenient to have around during all this packing, because once they are rolled up, you can fry up a few and heat up some sauce and have dinner ready in 10 minutes. It was my lumpia investment, and it sure is a tastier way to go than throwing away the wrappers.

The next part of having a gazillion of these things around is finding adventurous eaters who are willing to try food they've never heard of. So far, everyone I've fed them to loves them, and thinks they want the recipe (you saw the part about five hours prep work, right? You don't want this recipe). I've been selective about offering the result of my hard work, but still, that's good odds. If you get invited to my house for lumpia, just know you're in for a treat. I have four meals left of them. Do you want to come over and try out food you've never heard of?

I Hate Congress

I have posted before about how idiotic Daylight Savings Time is. And now I've lost an hour, when I really could have used it (What do you MEAN the movers are coming in a week??). I can't stand that they've imposed more of this DST on my life, and moved it up to occur right in the middle of My Big Move.

And now, we basically have 4 months of the year in our real time zone, and the rest in the shifted time zone. What's the point of even being in the Central Time Zone? I think I'm going to start saying that I'm in Adjusted Mountain Time. Pretty soon, though, I'll be in Pacific Time, and I don't know what the time zone just west of Pacific is called.

Oh, and if I hear one more person talk about how this gives us "more" daylight, they're going to get an earful from me.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Oh...The Horror!

One can tell they are way too busy when the pivotal day of the year comes and goes, and you've missed the Selection Show for the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

I didn't actually forget it, I just had in my mind that the selection show was at 6, but it was 6 eastern time. When I turned on the TV to get my hour-long droolfest in, I found "60 Minutes" instead -- I'd missed it. Normally, I would have been watching all the big conference championship games, and the selection show would come on and I would never have missed anything. Instead, I had to find out that A&M is a 3 seed in the South division (San Antonio, here I come!!) by checking the web. The build-up and drama is missing that way.

I haven't missed a selection show since I realized I love basketball. Every year you could find me on the couch, pen and paper in hand, analyzing matchups as they are displayed. Somehow, though, with all the packing and moving stuff going on, I missed it this year.

My husband rolls his eyes every year when March shows up. He prefers to just disappear for a month while I watch game after game after game. However, even he indicated that he felt bad for me that I missed it. He left me alone while I spent an hour on the web trying to catch up on the information I missed.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

From On High

Our office is on the 18th floor in downtown Austin. From my desk, I have a view of Congress Avenue and the Capitol. It's a great view, and distracts me more often than I'd like to admit. In the last week, we've noticed two highly organized protests proceed, with police escort, up Congress to the Capitol grounds. These sorts of things happen so often that one of our team members brought binoculars from home to enable better viewing of the goings on in the street.

The protest on Friday was pretty big, and seemed to have something to do with the Trans-Texas Corridor. It involved horse- and donkey-drawn carriages, of all things. I was disturbed that the animals didn't have little poop-bag-collectors. However, it appears that my concern was for naught -- at the end of the protest march line there was a giant street-washing machine. I had seen sweepers before, but this was like a carpet steamer and washed the street, too.

Today there was another protest march. This one was much smaller and we couldn't see the signs to see what they were protesting. However, they were all coordinated, wearing the same lime green shirts.

As a result of these viewings, I have learned a few things about organizing a protest march:

  • Make sure lots of people are there, and make sure they bring their animals.

  • Call the police, and get them to escort you so the inconvenienced drivers can't do anything to you.

  • Be sure to color-code your wardrobe with the others in your group. This also makes it hard for protesters to change their mind and try to slink away.

  • Make your signs two-sided, so that people all around you can see what your cause is. Maybe add a third side on top of your signs for people in buildings with binoculars.

  • List your event on the Texas Capitol Events page to further propagate your cause to the masses.

If you follow Heather's basic rules for protests in downtown Austin, there will be a group of people on an 18th floor that will appreciate it. We don't do a very good job trying to make up what you are protesting.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

I might have gone to a certain double overtime basketball game this past Wednesday night. And I might have watched my Aggies lose their third conference game by just two points. I might also have enjoyed said game, even despite the loss. And I'm certainly still a fan, and am looking forward to what is yet to come this season.

And then I came across this quote from A&M coach Billy Gillispie:
I cry like a baby and just thinking about [Acie Law] playing his last game at home will make me cry.

Now, Gillispie is a tough guy. He shows very little emotion in any press conference I've ever seen. He talks about everything coming down to the win or the loss and what we need to do better. He doesn't believe in "moral victories" or other such sentimental things. When I saw this, I felt the tears start to well up in my own eyes.

Acie started his freshman season during Melvin Watkins' last year -- a phenomenally bad 0-16 conference season. He stuck around when Gillispie came, and has been a key part of the turnaround that we've seen in the last few years. He's an amazing player, and his improvement with the team has just been wonderful to watch. And that's just from my perspective as a fan. I would imagine that as a coach, that improvement would be even more exciting and humbling to watch.

If, after the last home game tomorrow, Billy starts crying, I think I will too.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Stretchy Jeans

I wanna know who came up with the idea that stretchy jeans would be such a great fashion thing for women. This idea has become so pervasive that it's hard to even find jeans that don't use this hybrid demin-spandex material. I think that is bad, and I demand my non-stretchy jeans options back!

But women look so hot in those tight-fitting jeans and I like to look at their butts crammed into them, you say? I disagree (and I do like to admire jean butts -- though generally male ones -- so let me tell you why).

When stretchy jeans are put on, fresh out of the dryer, they fit great. One might even say they fit like a glove (though people wear those on their hands, not their butts, so I've never really understood that cliche). But, after about 6 minutes of moving around in them, they get stretched out. Like a really old pair of underwear whose elastic has been through the washer and dryer so many times that it has degraded to having nearly no springbackability left, and you're left with your underwear around your ankles.

Once this occurs, you are left with an entire day (or evening or whatever) of constantly pulling your pants up. And that's attractive, let me tell you. Or you could avoid that pitfall, and just have female plumber's butt. Male plumber's butt is worse, but the female version is no walk in the park. Especially if the female in question is wearing the kind of underwear described above.

So, give me back my straightforward jeans made out of real denim with no strechiness included. And if you're interested in finding used HIAHS stretchy jeans, they should be available at your local Goodwill in a couple of days.