Nov 032020
 

This was also sitting my drafts folder since 2007. I intended to document the entire trip only ever made it this far. I’m publishing it as is.

We just got back from a ten day road trip to Montana and back. My second cousin’s wedding in Big Sky, Montana was the excuse for the trip. It was by far our longest road trip as a family and it actually went pretty well. Until this trip, I was the only one of the four of us who had slept in a tent. We opted to stay at KOAs for several of the nights to save money. We bought a tent and some sleeping bags for a total of roughly $50.

Our first night was spent at a KOA in Salina, KS. We drove straight through from Austin to Salina, leaving at 7am on Wednesday and arriving at Salina in the evening. I got stopped in Fort Worth by a cop I passed. The Wife pointed him out, but I wasn’t paying enough attention. I had to play the repentant dad to the meathead cop to avoid a ticket. That was the only cop encounter of the trip, thankfully. We pretty much blew through Oklahoma with a rest stop for a picnic lunch. Dinner was in Newton, KS at the Dairy Queen. We couldn’t find much else by the time we got there.

I’d stayed at one KOA in high school, so I don’t have much experience with them. I’ve now learned that they vary wildly from location to location. Their own sites are somewhat informative, but I’m wondering if there’s a good site with ratings by travelers. Salina has tent sites right by the entrance to the camp, so we had cars passing us on and off through the night. I had no problems, but it kept The Wife up. Most KOAs are pretty close to the highway, so you’re not really out in the boonies camping. It’s just a cheap way to stay. They average $23 per night for a tent site, though some are more expensive. I’ll get to that later.

We left Salina, KS at 8am on Thursday, headed for the KOA at Douglas, Wy. We’d gotten reservations at Salina and Douglas beforehand. We barreled through KS and eastern CO without much more than rest stops. Our first spontaneous stop was in Fort Collins for a beer tasting at Fort Collins Brewery and Odell Brewing. We got the kids a growler of root beer at Fort Collins Brewery and brought back some samples. Odell Brewing was a little fancier, but I think I liked the beer at Fort Collins better. We skipped New Belgium Brewing. I hate Fat Tire.

We hit Douglas just as a storm was gathering in the mountains. It meant a windy night and a lot of lightning, but thankfully we escaped the rain.

 Posted by on November 3, 2020 at 4:46 pm
Nov 032020
 

Side note: this has been sitting in my Drafts folder since 2007 so I’m just posting it as is.

I just read this post over on The Disney Blog. Like many things over the past 10 months, it’s reminded me of my family’s trip to Disneyland in March. We only spent a couple of hours in the Grand Californian, but it was one of the most relaxing times of the trip. Whit captures the feeling of being there as an adult. It’s time to finally post a recap of our trip before I forget it all.

Before last March, I’d visited Disneyland once with my family in the summer of 1987. I’d also visited Disneyworld in March of 1982 with my mother, sister, and another family from school. My dad sat that one out.

We stayed at the Disneyland hotel or “on property” to use the proper lingo in the Bonita tower. Staying at the Disneyland Hotel means that you have to walk through Downtown Disney to get to the park entrance. We had breakfast with the characters in Goofy’s Kitchen. We ate dinner at Hooke’s Point. Also ate at House of Blues the first day. Ate at Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and Catal as well. In addition to having lunch at the Blue Bayou, Golden Horseshoe and Bengal Barbecue. We had brunch at Granville’s (which I think has since changed names to Steakhouse 55) on the last day with an excruciating van ride to the airport.

I was underwhelmed by Fantasmic and think we were just too wiped the night that we stayed for the parade and fireworks. The three-year-old balked at the Matterhorn and Snow White’s ride was too scary for her as well, but we got through it. I’m still partial to Space Mountain and Peter Pan, myself.

I think California Adventure gets a bad wrap. The food over there is certainly nothing of note. We ate lunch at the wharf / pier area one day and the only thing I remember was the microbrew stand where I was able to grab a welcome beer during all of the saccharin-y goodness. We did the princess dinner one night at Ariel’s Grotto, purely for my 3-year-old daughter. She loved it. The rest of us endured it. The two biggest thrill rides, in my opinion, are at California Adventure: Tower of Terror and California Screaming. I found the Redwood Creek challenge trail oddly relaxing. I was able to sit while my 7-year-old did the zip lines and treehouse. I was amazed that we got him on both Tower of Terror and California Screaming. He made repeat trips to the roller coaster, but once was enough for the Tower of Terror. The more recent movie tie-ins tend to fall short of the traditional rides. Monsters Inc. was impressive only for its set design and the Indiana Jones ride was also underwhelming. Unfortunately, the Haunted Mansion was closed while we were there, but at least we got to do Pirates of the Carribean before its revamp to coincide with the release of the movie. The Tiki Room was another pleasant respite from the heat and the crazy crowds. I agree wholeheartedly with Wil’s assessment during a visit the month before we went.

 Posted by on November 3, 2020 at 4:42 pm
Aug 052020
 

There was an article in the NY Times Magazine about Jon Stewart at the end of June to coincide with his new movie. I had starred the e-mail with it in Gmail to follow up and read it. I finally got around to doing that this morning. Great article if you’re a fan of his or watched The Daily Show. (Who remembers when Craig Kilborn hosted before him and did 5 Questions with a celebrity guest at the end?).

This was my favorite quote:

What is broken about Washington isn’t the bureaucracy. It’s legislators’ ability to address the issues inherent in any society — and the reason they can’t address them is that when you have a duopoly, there is no incentive to work together to create something better. Plus, you have one party whose premise is that government is bad and whose goal is to prove that, which makes them, in essence, a double agent. All these things coalesce to make problem-solving the antithesis of what we’ve created. We’re incentivized for more extreme candidates, for more extreme partisanship, for more conflict and permanent campaigning, for corporate interests to have more influence on the process, not less. The tax code isn’t complicated because poor people have demanded that it be that way.

 Posted by on August 5, 2020 at 11:13 am
Aug 052020
 

I’ve watched the first 8 episodes of the ESPN documentary that is ostensibly about the 1998 Chicago Bulls season, but uses that season to make multiple jumps to the past to follow threads for a while and then jump back into the “present” season. It has worked pretty well and even my 10 year old who is not the biggest sports fan has gotten into it enough to want to watch it with me.

I’ve never been too worried about bad language in front of him, but the “mature language” warning all over the documentary is warranted. Jordan lets loose quite a few f-bombs in every episode and some of the language / trash talking in the last couple of episodes is a bit cringe worthy in 2020.

We got season tickets to the Dallas Mavericks in 1983 and started going to the games pretty regularly though we split the season with two other families. We went pretty regularly and had seats behind the basket on the Mavericks bench side. I believe it was section 121 at Reunion Arena. The next year was the rookie year for Jordan and his fellow UNC classmate, Sam Perkins, who joined the Mavericks.

One of the highlights of having season tickets was getting to go to the 1986 NBA All Star game and getting to see All Star Saturday. Sadly, if you’ll recall, Jordan was injured his second season and he did not participate in either the dunk contest or the game. That’s the year that Spud Webb won, beating out Dominique Wilkins.

I was lucky enough to attend Dean Smith’s Carolina Basketball School in the summer of 1986 and the summer of 1987. Kenny Smith was still at UNC at the time (now part of the awesome TNT basketball crew) and I remember him working with us on drills. Michael Jordan also came that first summer and did a short clinic on the courts outside of Granville Towers, the dorms where we stayed during the camp. They then had a pickup game with current and former UNC students including Jordan and Kenny Smith. I had some crappy 110 film camera shots from it but I can’t seem to find them anymore.

The documentary is now on Netflix and it’s definitely worth a watch especially if you watched the NBA in the 80s and 90s as I did. It gives quite a bit of insight into Jordan.

 Posted by on August 5, 2020 at 11:04 am
Dec 242019
 

I got two e-mails from Texas politicians today. I’ve been on John Cornyn’s mailing list for many years. I like to keep tabs on my Senator even if I didn’t vote for him and I generally don’t agree with him. I never bothered to get on Ted Cruz’s list apparently. Digging through my Gmail account, I don’t have much from Kay Bailey Hutchison either. I’m also getting e-mails from Beto O’Rourke. They’re quite a contrast. O’Rourke’s is much more personal and less tone deaf than Cornyn’s.

Here’s O’Rourke’s

Here’s Cornyn’s

My favorite thing in Cornyn’s is the small print footer that’s included in most of his recent e-mails.

I’m not sure which staffer wrote it but they need a proofreader.

“help stop the dangerous policies being pedaled by the left to oppose our president and replace our conservative Texas values”.

It’s not in Oatmeal’s 10 words but it needs to be. The phrase is “peddled”, not “pedaled”. I’m not sure how you pedal policies, but I suppose you could peddle them. Lol. Google knows:

Double Lol. Also according to my Gmail account, that footer has been in 126 e-mails from Cornyn since March 12th of this year which is the first time it appeared. His campaign used O’Rourke as a fundraising tool for most of those e-mails, particularly at the beginning of this month when he dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary and it was rumored he might join the primary race to run against Cornyn with most of the subjects of those e-mails having “BETO WATCH” in the subject.

 Posted by on December 24, 2019 at 12:22 pm
Aug 302019
 

If you don’t already subscribe to Austin Kleon’s newsletter, you should. I first found him via a blog post for an Austin City Limits taping that I attended at the old studio. He almost always has at least one cool link or tidbit to share.

Today’s newsletter linked Stop Blaming ‘Jaws’ from Heather Havrilesky in 2013. I didn’t know that she wrote for NY Times Magazine. I recall liking several of her writings on Salon back in the early 2000s. The amusing part to me is that she pretty much wrote the script to 2018’s The Meg with that mock 2014 version of Jaws. I wonder if she’s asked for a cut of the royalties?

I’m not sure I completely agree with what she says in the article though. It’s true that the writing and directing in Jaws is far superior to any summer blockbuster (or most movies for that matter) made since. But that’s really true of the film industry in general. You can still say that Jaws caused the studios to chase the massive box office takes in the summer, maybe just not the subsequent decline in quality which probably happened for a number of reasons.

My go to example for this is Network. The writing and directing in that? So amazing. And it would never get made today. It’s on Netflix. If you’ve never seen it, you should go watch it right now.

 Posted by on August 30, 2019 at 12:35 pm
Dec 272018
 

I know this is going to come as a shock to you, but the current President of the United States is a serial liar. He lies as easily as he breathes. Why are we putting up with this? Two minutes of searching proves that his latest statement to troops that he gave them a more than 10% raise and that there hadn’t been one in more than 10 years is demonstrably false. They’ve gotten one every year for the last 10 years and the largest in the last 10 years was in 2009 at 3.9%.

 Posted by on December 27, 2018 at 1:32 pm
Mar 292018
 

I made a comment at work today after reviewing a pull request that someone had posted in Slack. It was fixing some forward slashes in routing URLs. So I asked:

Slash problems?

To which someone replied with a GIF of Slash from the November Rain video.

Which made me reply:

I actually saw the original GnR lineup a couple of times. Including a gig that they all agreed was one of their worst…and I have to agree. The show earlier that year with Aerosmith was better.

I had jumbled up the timeline a bit in my head, but I did see Guns N Roses three times. The Aerosmith show was July 1988 followed by the Texas Stadium show in September. It was definitely a rainy mess. The third time I saw them was with Matt Sorum and it was their ill fated 1991 tour as I mentioned with my ticket stub. I don’t have the ticket from the INXS show, but I do have the one from the Aerosmith gig.

 Posted by on March 29, 2018 at 5:57 pm
Jan 292018
 

I was a huge Metallica fan in the late 80s. Huge. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Master of Puppets changed my life (for better or for worse?).

I don’t remember why or how, but I bought the album in the Spring of 1986. For some reason, I recall buying the record on the same Saturday that my father and I went to see the Rangers play the Yankees in Arlington. If that memory is correct, it means I bought it on May 10, 1986. It was barely a month before they played the Bronco Bowl in Fort Worth. I remember the date of the show and I still have the ticket stub.

So when the deluxe remaster box set was released late last year, I decided it was worth it to get a copy. My enthusiasm for the box set caused me to go and get a copy of Back to the Front. The book had been in my wish list from the previous year, but I hadn’t purchased it. I have to say that it’s a pretty great book and I highly recommend it, especially if you were a fan around that time, but I do have one gripe with the book. It follows the chronology of the tour pretty well and includes a huge amount of detail. The quote about the show that I saw on June 3 at the Bronco Bowl is completely inaccurate.

Back to the Front - Inaccurate quote

Sorry, Tobias Strul. Ozzy didn’t play the Bronco Bowl. The June 3 show was a Metallica headline show. They played several headliner shows while the Ozzy tour took a break between the first and second US legs. The tour dates for the Ultimate Sin Tour prove this out. My guess is that he saw them at the Tarrant County Convention center a month earlier on May 10th. I remember seeing James in the concession area at the Bronco Bowl before the show which I thought was really cool. I was unfamiliar with the band’s earlier material, so when they closed with Whiplash as one of the last songs, I thought they were saying “Witness”. Not long after the show, I bought both Ride The Lightning and Kill Em All. I remember hearing the news of the death of Cliff on tour in Europe while listening to the late Saturday night metal show in KNON. I remember loving the Garage Days Re-Visited EP (and still do). Perhaps if there’s a re-print, they’ll fix it?

I did see Ozzy a few years later at Reunion Arena also corroborated by the tour dates in Wikipedia. I certainly would’ve remembered seeing him in a tiny venue like the Bronco Bowl.

 Posted by on January 29, 2018 at 8:33 pm