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May 16, 2002

72 Hours in Houston, or

72 Hours in Houston, or
How I Spent My Mother's Day Weekend

by Dylan Wilbanks

Friday, 1pm: Head for airport. Take bus for first time. Takes five minutes longer than Shuttle Express and requires me to walk four blocks to the 70/71/72/73 bus stop as well as transfer downtown. However, taking Shuttle Express both ways would have cost $52; the bus was free with my university-subsidized bus pass. WOOHOOO!!!!1!

1:30pm: Leave my wife at Pioneer Square station for her ticket abrogation hearing. She was going 35 in a school zone (where the zone was not clearly marked, the "end school zone" signs didn't exist, and Seattle traffic cops are the biggest arseholes on the face of the earth [well, they'd give Sharon and Arafat a good run for the money]).

2:30pm: Check in for my flight to Phoenix. No one in the whole damn airport.

2:31pm: Begin rearranging stuff in order to get through security quickly. Take five minutes.

2:37pm: Through security in 60 seconds. Wow.

3:30pm: Wife calls. Judge was an arse; she has to pay the whole $150. Only good news is that our two tickets only overlap until the end of July, just before our auto insurance premiums get adjusted, so we'll still only have one when they readjust. Whew.

5:00pm: Finally heading for Phoenix.

7:30pm: Arrive in Phoenix. Hungry, so grab food, just as they start boarding my flight. Idiot taco stand guys take forever just to make a taco -- then don't give me my coke. ARRGH. And it's an airport-priced coke (i.e., $5 for a 32 oz.)

7:40pm: Try to board. Get stopped by stewardess; problem with plane. I'm stuck on the jetway with six other passengers waiting for the all-clear. They won't let us go forward or back. Worse, the salsa is starting to leak in the bag that holds my uneaten taco. Five minutes later I finally get to board.

8:00pm: Eat taco. Cold, wet, and messy. Ick.

1:00am CST: Arrive in Houston. 77 degrees, 150% humidity. Only cabs to the hotel; they don't run the shuttle. It's MILES to the hotel, and it's the "Airport Hyatt."

1:30am: Get to room. THIS IS THE HYATT? Smells like the last exec in this room pissed on the carpet. No wonder I got a "great deal on a luxury hotel." Try to sleep. Can't. Too much caffeine.

3:00am: After watching Bill Cosby "Himself" (which remains brilliant after 20 years) and a round of Playstation, finally get to sleep.

Saturday:
9:00am: Wake up too early.

10:00am: I pick up the rental car -- a Dodge Neon. Damn, I wanted the Kia Sportage, the car I had in Boston that handled the nightmare streets better than I did.

11am: Surprise best friend by showing up at his house (at his wife's behest.) We head for Mission Burrito. I order the "regular" and get something the size of a toddler. If this is the regular, I wonder how many families can be fed with the jumbo.

1:30pm: Go to 24 screen monster cinema near the Galleria. Wide aisles, stadium seating. See Spider-Man. Kirsten Dunst has sure grown up nicely. She and Anna Paquin have been added to my women-that-I-can-sleep-with-without-penalty-from-the-wife list.

3:30pm: Supposedly we're heading for the comic book store, but one of the guys gets his car towed. We end up going all over Houston trying to find it. At this point I have discovered that we're going to a
restaurant that likes people wearing long pants. It's 90-rsfcking-2 and they want me in khakis. Fine. Drive all the way back to the hotel (which, mind you, is 25 miles one way) and put them on.

6:30pm: Stop to get money out of a WaMu ATM, and there's a long queue of Suthrn'rs who can't figure out how to GET MONEY OUT OF AN ATM. The damn thing's in English AND Spanish and they can't figure it out.

7:00pm: Back to the house, head for Churascos. South American, like Argentinian and Chilean. Steak salad! Steak rolls! Steak covered in steak sauce with steak pasta in a basil and steak aioli served with a side of mashed steak and a wonderful dessert of steak pudding! OK, it wasn't THAT bad. Still, I got the tuna. Quite nice, as were the empanadas and my bread pudding dessert.

12:00am: I'm out $45 for dinner. End up in an hour-long conversation about the merits of DS9 vs. Voyager in terms of scriptwriting.

1:30am: Hit the bed.

SUNDAY
7:30am: Wake up. TOO EARLY!

11:00am: Arrive at house. Chaos ensues. People's schedules are all out of sequence. Best friend thinks everything is his fault (and some of it is, but he's trying to crucify himself for everything from his stepson's ADHD to the Palestinian conflict. It all sounds familiar.

3:00pm: Chaos continues. We end up at Star Pizza, don't know which one. The waitress is about 23 and HAWT. Best friend is touch pushy with her. I make pleasant conversation with her. In this situation, if we weren't both married, I think I have a 65% chance of getting her phone number, and he has a 80% chance of being mad at me when I get it. She even seemed like a Rice sort of girl. Someone else has mentioned that she may be a U Houston sort of woman, but you know, it's all moot since she's not on The List. Now, if Anna Paquin were the waitress and wearing that tight t-shirt, then I guess I have to get her to set my wife up with Buffy heartthrob James Marsters.

4:00pm: Guy who got car towed yesterday arrives with wife and baby in tow. Baby is cute and keeps thinking I'm her father. Heh.

4:05pm: Go to comic book store. Geek factor 26. I never go into comic book stores because I still don't want to be seen as a geek, and yet I feel completely out of place. Guys sitting around discussing the merits of JSA and JLA; I think they're government agencies. I end up buying a Neil Gaiman illustrated novel (to be discussed on the big board later this evening) for the wife, figuring at least she'll get something out of this trip.

5:00pm: Pay for comic book. Clerk is female, 25ish, geeky, yet HAWT. Looks like another Rice sort of girl wearing a very understated white t-shirt with a picture of Amidala on it. Probably boyfriended (as most geek girls over 25 are; at some point their femaleness makes them intensely desireable to that kind of man who buys comic books, discusses scriptwriting in DS9 over dinner, and makes his living parked in front of a computer. Hi.)

5:02pm: At this point I'm considering whether I should move to Houston and pursue these fine specimens of wiminness. My list:

Pros:
HAWT GIRLS!!!!, some of which are from Rice (or Houston)
Traffic very good, esp. compared to the 24/7 traffic jam that is Seattle

Cons:
Shortage of Rice girls (30% of student population)
I'm married, and wife is a goth-geek chyk who wears tight t-shirts VERY well
It's frikkin HOUSTON, where they give the heat index even in the dead of winter

7:00pm: Dinner. Other couple really like the baby. Oh yes they do! Oh yes they do! Oh yes they do! Oh yes they do! Oh yes they do!

9:00pm: Depart house, say bye to best friend.

10:00pm: Turn in car, go to hotel, sleep.

SUNDAY
4:00pm: Wake. TOO F'IN EARLY!!!1!

4:15am: Check out of hotel, ask about airport shuttle. No shuttle until 5, but just for me they'll drive me to the airport. That's why I stayed at the Hyatt.

4:45am: Check in for flight. Woman in line leaves bags sitting at the front of line. Check-in counter just about has a cow -- UNATTENDED BAGGAGE!!!! I don't blame her, but still.

5:00am: You want food in Terminal A of Houston Intercontinental? One choice, The House of Ronald. I have the Sausage Flavored Grease Patty and Egg-Like Substance on a Dry Biscuit-Like Bread Product.

6:00am: On to Phoenix.

6:45am PST: I've been up for four hours, and it's still 15 minutes before I usually wake up. Worse, I'm in Phoenix.

7:30am: On plane to Seattle. Bad news: APU is out on plane, so no air conditioning until the engines go on. This is Phoenix at 7:30 in the morning. The temperature is rising about 5 degrees a minute.

8:30am: Finally get everything fixed, plane pushes back. It's now 125 degrees in the cabin. You'd think what they could do is put people in some sort of "holding pen" until the plane is fixed, but no, you set there and roast.

11:00am: Back to Sea-Tac, back on the bus y'all. Meanwhile Carnival is opening their sailing season by having 2000 of the most ugly American tourists they could find block all known exits out of the airport by standing there looking dumb.

12:30pm: Arrive at work. Yes, I worked today. I so smrt.

Conclusion: I actually enjoyed the trip. The insane amounts of jet lag are an issue, but next time I'll swallow hard and pay the extra $50 for a more reasonable arrival/departure.

Posted by dylan at 03:21 PM

May 04, 2002

Been a while, but here's

Been a while, but here's one thing of interest: Namibian television had some interesting programming this week.

Posted by dylan at 03:48 PM