Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Pink feather boas

Is there anything they can't make fabulous? I just got a package from G&T with an emery board encased in pink feather boa material. Now I can do my nails and look fabulous all at the same time. The only issue may be keeping the cat away from it; Shrapnel has been known to unearth feather tiaras out of the bowels of my closet and carry them around with him.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Keep Austin weird

That apparently is Austin's unofficial (or at least, god, I hope it's not officially-endorsed) motto. We drove up there, braving the traffic, on Saturday. I had been wanting to go to Austin since I moved here, but with it being about a 3 hour voyage round-trip, it just never seemed to be the right time. But Saturday was a beautiful day, perfect for a road trip, and it was a friend's birthday. Well, technically, it was the birthday of a husband of a grad school roommate of one of my college roommates, if that makes sense, and I hadn't actually met either of them, but we'd corresponded via email and this seemed to be a good excuse to go visit. So off The Texan and I went.

Austin is a lot smaller than San Antonio and has an almost bipolar disconnect between its funky college-town vibe and the suits around its Capitol. A lot of the area around the university reminded me a lot of Berkeley. Ah, falafel joints and Urban Outfitters - what would a college town do without you?

We trundled around the Capitol grounds quickly, since they were about to close. Verdict? Beautiful building, reminiscent of most capitol buildings. And that damn lone star was on everything that could be held down and stamped with one.

Outside there was a woman in an antebellum outfit getting her picture taken with her own private cadet honor guard. Still not sure what that was about, but it looked very picturesque, if a bit hot. I am so glad we don't live in a time where we have to wear all that frippery. I love a good belle of the ball dress as much as the next girl, but I would flip if I had to wear all those layers in this heat.

One typically Texan thing on the grounds was a brass plaque dedicated to the West fountain. Which is no longer there, and for which there is no photographic evidence. I was puzzling over the sign, trying to figure out why they would commemorate what in my mind would be a non-issue. Do they also put signs up next to where water fountains used to be? Are there dedications to the hallowed grounds of old bathrooms? What up with that? The Texan took one look and informed me as to the fountain's importance: it was fed by an artesian spring, which, in this neck of the woods, is worth its weight in gold. Fair enough then, I stand corrected.

After, we drove to Lake Austin for dinner. Now, that's the way to have lakes: a less than five-minute drive from downtown. None of this inconvenient hiking or mountaineering or anything like that. We weren't the only ones with this idea and had to wait a while for a table. Luckily, the Hula Hut has quite tasty margaritas and free chips and salsa for those biding their times until a table opens up, so it wasn't that bad a wait at all.

And the birthday boy and his wife were incredibly nice and friendly, so the whole trip worked out quite well.

I still think that commanding others to "Keep Austin weird" seems somewhat contrived: either you're weird naturally or not. That's just me though.

Monday, March 27, 2006

This just astounds me

Dollar Tree has its own radio network. Allow me to repeat this: Dollar Tree has its own radio network. So when you go into one of their stores, you will only hear Dollar Tree-approved music. It appears to mostly be classic rock, so I guess that represents their target demographic.

How is it that Dollar Tree was able to grow to the point where it could have its own music channel? And how did I miss that? At least Dollar Tree lives up to its name. The Texan went nuts there on Friday and spent $29. The receipt was great: $1 after $1 after $1. You wonder why they bother. But their name isn't at all misleading, unlike other so-called dollar stores (Dollar General, I'm looking at you) whose prices start at one dollar but certainly do not stop at it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My DVR clearly hates me

Last night, I got home late from work, so The Texan and I didn't get to sit down until 9pm. Even though that's when The Amazing Race comes on here in the hinterlands, I stayed calm and didn't fling myself at the TV to watch. Officially, it was because The Texan had made his famous lemon chicken and I wanted to be able to concentrate on it (and him), but unofficially, I figured that our trusty DVR would be able to record it.

I checked in around 9:40 to see if I could catch up, but decided just to wait until the show was over and watch it in its entirety. Big mistake.

At 10pm, I found out that not only had the DVR eff'ed up and only taped TAR for the last 21 minutes, it decided in its infinite wisdom that I needed to be taught a lesson and deleted EVERY. SINGLE. SHOW. I had saved on it. And quite a few had built up in our week-long absence. Scrubs? Gone. Gilmore Girls? Gone. What Not to Wear? Good-bye, Clinton and Stacy, it was nice knowing you.

But - and this is where my conspiracy instincts kick in - it didn't touch a single one of The Texan's shows. None of them got deleted. I guess the DVR loves him better than me. Bastard technology.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Back from paradise

You remember those Southwest ads from a few years ago where people are lying out on the beach and a single cloud flits across an otherwise crystal-clear blue sky? They all huff, "God, the weather was so much better yesterday." That pretty much sums up the past week in Montego Bay.

The Texan and I had a wonderfully relaxing time, despite getting off to a rocky start: I dropped his cigarettes in the ocean about .3 seconds after assuring him they were secure with me, something which I can look forward to hearing about for the next five centuries. But it was great. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, which may have skimped on the quality of its liquor but certainly not the quantity. Having said that, neither of us got that blitzed - it was too nice a trip to mar with an alcoholic haze. The resort also had food available round the clock, which means that I have gotten *way* too used to having piping hot grilled cheese sandwiches at my disposal.

Besides the normal beach resort activities, ours had a salon that offered beach massages. After the first one, The Texan and I rushed back to buy three more. Each. So we spent a lot of time on the masseuses tables, listening partially to the surf and partially to the gossip of the salon employees (they spoke in patois but would often slip into English).

We managed to avoid most of the COLLEGE SPRING BREAK WOO WOO types, although we did go down to the main drag and its piece de resistance, Margaritaville. Now, when I was in Montego Bay eight years ago, that was our anchor. This time, we only went there once at night and once during the day, and that latter trip was only because our party catamaran docked there. However, we figured, might as well take advantage and went down their three-story waterslide. Twice. That waterslide would not fly in the US: our litigatious society would never allow a slide that would dump you out ON ROCKS (I cut my foot on the second trip). But it was an absolute blast, nonetheless.

One of the cool things about this resort was that everyone was super-friendly, guests and employees alike. So we met a lot of people. One couple had been coming there for about 13 years or so and really knew the town. They recommended a driver who we ended up hiring to drive us out to the hills outside of Montego Bay so we could see what life was like for Jamaicans away from the resort areas. Turns out for some of them....not bad at all. There's this one neighborhood called "Ironshore" which has houses worth a couple of million U.S. dollars. More often, though, we saw a lot of goats and corrugated tin shacks. Something I found fascinating was the predilection to abandon cars at the side of the road. The foliage would quickly take over and the car would be eaten away.

One thing I couldn't fathom: this is an island chock full of goats. Why no chevre? They have no problem eating goat meat, why not goat cheese?

And while I managed to avoid getting my hair braided - been there, done that - The Texan folded under the constant pressure of the salon employees (he has gorgeous thick hair that goes about to his shoulderblades, and no I'm not at all threatened by dating a man with prettier hair than mine)(am *thisclose* to putting Nair in his conditioner)(KIDDING, because then he'd start using mine) and got his hair braided. It looks pretty damn good, and it won him the hearts of all the staff at the resort as he was the only white guy in Montego Bay with braids. I think tonight, however, is the unbraidening, as they're starting to fuzz.

The trip ended nicely with the dog and The Texan having a joyous reunion at our front gate. I swear, I thought one of them was going to pass out from happiness. The cat, while much more restrained, was also happy to see us back. The hand that rules the can opener rules the world, you know.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Yeah mon

The Texan and I leave tomorrow for spring break. Spring break! College! WOO! We're going to Montego Bay, Jamaica, which just so happens to be where I spent my spring break while in grad school. Is it sad that I'm still going on spring break nearly a decade after I was a student? And to the same place I went to as a student? Never mind, don't answer that. We're staying in a nicer place than before, if that makes a difference. It's one of those all-inclusive resorts where we plan to get our money's worth. And there's a swim-up bar. I think I have a new policy: only go on vacation where there's a swim-up bar (granted, I have a fairly flexible definition of what counts as one - ie, a six-pack on a floatie qualifies).

Anyways, things I learned from my last visit to Jamaica that I will be applying this time around:

1) If you buy booze in duty-free while killing time during yet another delay of your flight out of the States, don't open up the bottle in the presence of the employee who sold it to you. They tend to frown on that type of behavior.

2) When the banana boat driver says he can make you go faster if you give the thumbs-up sign, prevent any member of your party from doing so. You will spill on the first curve and damned if it isn't nearly impossible to climb back on while trying to keep from going under the waves.

3) If you go out on a glass-bottom boat and one of your fellow passengers doesn't know how to swim, steer clear of him when the boat stops so that everyone can get out and snorkel. Panic WILL set in and you WILL be dragged under his flailing limbs.

4) No going down waterslides naked. (No explanation needed.)

5) No taking naps at the bottom of the pool while playing drunken midnight volleyball. (Again, no explanation needed.)

6) You may be frightened and confused because things are different in a different country. This is known as culture shock, and it's okay. (hahaha, inside joke to G&T. sorry)

7) If you go out on a daytrip, don't let any drunk friends get hold of the bus' intercom on the way back.

8) The steel drums are pervasive and will burn into your soul. Surrender immediately - do not fight them.

Happy spring, everyone! See you next week.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It has happened

Just now, I was working on my lawn when I exchanged pleasantries with my next-door neighbor about the weather. And it dawned on me: I have become one with the 'burbs. Didn't take long - just over five months. For some reason, I thought I'd put up more of a fight. So far, I haven't gone to Wal-Mart but I'm sure that's not far off. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

In danger

Over the weekend, The Texan and I rearranged the entire house. Okay, well, not the bathroom, but that's only because everything in there is pretty fixed in place already. But the rest of it: moved around. It looks much better - better air flow, better arrangement, less crowded, all that good stuff. But there is one drawback.

I had finally learned where I could safely get dressed in the bedroom and avoid the Ceiling Fan of Death. It took many, many tries, but five months later, I was confident as to where I could reach up and *not* get my fingers whacked by the fan. Now, everything is new again and I've got to figure it out all over again. And sadly, I have a very high learning curve on this. Cross your fingers that I'll still have all ten of mine by Memorial Day.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

My dumbass tendencies assert themselves yet again

I do a lot of work out of my home, so having a valid and reliable internet connection is crucial to my getting the job done. And with in-house tech support - The Texan - I haven't had to worry at all about my access to the interweb.

Until Tuesday.

I woke up, went to the gym, and came back, ready for another day at the salt mines. I sit down, turn on my computer...and get the "failure to connect" screen that happens when I sometimes jump the gun at linking up to the internet. So I try it again, giving it ample time. Nada. Again. Nothing. Again. Zilch. Again again again GODDAMMIT.

Since The Texan was at school all day, I was left to my own resources, which are limited indeed. Luckily, he has two other computers in his office, so I went to them, figuring that I could work on them and have him deal with mine when he got back home. But no, that would've been too easy. The laptop? Sing it with me: nothing. His desktop was (finally!) able to connect but did weird shit to my work email rendering it useless. Resigned, I called into my office and told them I'd be offline for a good chunk of the day. I did a few calming breaths and started getting caught up on my work-related reading that had been stacked up for weeks.

Later on that day, The Texan came home, and through the power of magic (or at least that's what I'm chalking it up to), was immediately able to log onto the internet through his laptop. Once we shifted to another internet program, his desktop worked just fine with my office email.

The icing on the cake was my laptop. It has a lil switch on its front, right next to the touchpad (thanks a lot, VAIO designers), that allows you to turn off your wireless connection. Somehow it'd gotten toggled so it was off instead of on. I blame the cat.

Of course, I'd much rather it be that than some costly repair situation. Still, you can't help but feel a little stupid.