Sunday, September 22, 2013

Coffee is Served...

You know the drill - we buy a new coffee pot, it seems like every 6 months.  I agreed with the peculator only because Eva found a little timer set-up so I can wake-up to the sound of coffee being brewed in the morning.
I have to admit, it tastes pretty good brewed this way.

Last night we were all set to tune into channel 623 on DirecTV to watch the UTSA vs UTEP game.  Turns out, we get some sort of error saying that we aren't subscribed to the channel.  I called up DirecTV and after getting myself out of the automated call tree, I talked with a nice lady from India.  She explained that the game was blacked out in our area.  Our area, being Texas.  Seriously?

So some quick research on the Internet revealed that there is some sort of dispute between CBS and the local cable provider.  And how is this my problem trying to watch a game on Fox?

We tried to watch the game through The Rowdy Zone via the Internet, but no luck there either.  So, we sat out on the patio and did it the old fashioned way, listening to the game on the radio, The Ticket 760 via I Heart Radio.  It would have been great to see it, but the announcers painted a great picture of the game and the Roadrunners won, so it was that much better.

This morning, Eva's friend from high school sent some pictures from the game.  Her son is the snapper, Jesse Medrano, so the proud mama took the long drive to El Paso to watch in person.  The Sun Bowl is a beautiful stadium setting surrounded by mountains that can be seen as the sun sets. 

Next week, there is no blackout for us.  We'll watch at the Alamodome!

The rest of the yard isn't going to mow itself.  Guess I better get out there.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Floods, Food and Patios: An Update....

Holy Soaking Socks!  I appreciated the rain that we've had over the last few days, but I'm pretty sure I'll need to get out on the mower and finish mowing whether I like it or not.  Seriously, with a little flooding, the yard perks right up and the weeds grow in front of your eyes. 

On Friday, I got to experience my first flooded area in Lytle.  I stopped by the Lytle Oil Exchange to pick up half a yard of crushed granite to finish Eva's patio project (I'll tell you about it in a minute).  First off, they looked at me like I was a nut for wanting to get materials in the midst of a monsoon.  I said I would wait patiently by the huge pile of rock until they felt like it was dry enough to come out and load my truck.  About 20 minutes later, seeing that I wasn't leaving, the guy jumped on his Bobcat, loaded me a scoop of the crushed granite and sent me on my way.

I took my usual shortcut through town and noticed a "detour" sign, but also noticed that all the cars in front of me were going around the detour sign.  Like the lemming I am, I followed suit.  Then of course, when I got further down the street and saw the river crossing the road - oh, and by the way, I should mention there is no river in Lytle - and a sheriff parked on the other side with his flashers on, I decided to make a u-turn in the street and go back the other direction.  I'll be a law breaker all day long, speeding well above the posted limit and sometimes using the left lane even when I'm not passing, but I refuse to be the dumbass who has to be rescued from a low water crossing, no doubt being ridiculed by everyone seeing my face on the 10 o'clock news. 

I ended up driving on Highway 132 all the way to Natalia, and frankly, it felt good not to drown or have to be rescued.

If it seems like a while since I've posted, let me simply report that I have been one busy little beaver.  It is that time of year for all the government folks to spend all the taxpayers money, get contracts finalized and generally, work late every night.  Eva will be glad when this month is over, and so will I.

I was prompted to remember that I had a blog this morning.  We drove down to Devine and attended a fund raiser for the Wings and Reins horse rescue.  They had a little rummage sale sort of thing and we bought a few nick-knacks.  Jo, the nice lady who leads the effort remembered Eva from the time we baby sat horses for a few days.  She laughed about the video I posted on the blog and and relived the good times.  If you didn't see, check it out here and here
 Last weekend during the big Texas A&M Alabama game, we met with friends at a place on the river walk called Charlie Wants a Burger.  They are located across the street from Pat O'Brien's if that helps.  Actually, we sat out on the river walk dining area but kept track of the game through the window. 
I got an order of onion rings just so we could all try them out and they were fantastic. This wasn't the whole order, just the one that ended up on my plate.
Several of us had Charlie's Juicy Lucy which is a great burger with lots of cheese, grilled onions, jalapenos and pickles.  What a fantastic looking burger with lots of gooey, melty cheese.  Unfortunately, we all noticed immediately that the jalapenos were missing.  In what was a fluke to our otherwise great service, it took forever to have a small plate of jalapenos delivered so we could doctor the things up and eat.  I think we all would have rather just eaten them without the jalapenos if we thought it was going to take so long.  Oh well, I'm not going to let that spoil the good time.  Our food was great and it was a nice enjoyable place.  Try it and let me know what you think. 
Speaking of food, on Friday evening, Eva had a hankering for some nachos and a margarita.  We slipped over to La Pasadita in Natalia and had a plate full.  I like the place for breakfast, I like them for lunch, and now I am happy to certify them for dinner! 

So you'll have to understand that my knees really, really hurt when I tell you that I mostly watched Eva re-do our front patio.  You'll recall how excited we were when we Eva and her sister Liz put down the flagstone in March of last year.
 So fast forward to a few weeks ago when we realized that the underlying plastic was not allowing enough drainage and we were getting a moldy situation.  I came home from work one night and Eva had pulled up all the flagstone and was busy moving the sand and decayed crushed granite around so she could remove the layers of plastic.   I promise it was her doing the work, but she has threatened me with physical violence if I post the pictures of her bending over performing manual labor.

I did actually get out and help shovel for a while until my knees really hurt, then I suggested we hire someone to finish the job.
So the next evening, having not hired anyone but me, Eva had me pick up some sand from our materials place in Lytle.  We removed all of the plastic that was causing the crappy drainage, then started leveling things off with the idea of a slight slope for water to run-off and not form any pools.
Next, we put down some of that really good weed barrier so we'd be able to get the drainage we need without the constant pop-up weeds.  We'll see how that works within a few months, I'm sure.
From there, it was a matter of using sand to level each of the pieces of flagstone.  I can say that, while I moved the heavier pieces and manned the wheelbarrow, Eva really did most of the work.
The patio looks a lot better than it did and I feel pretty comfortable that we'll get good drainage, both on top and beneath the rock.   And if we get just a little bit more rain, I think all the residual sand and granite will rinse away. 

So I think we are up to date here. I have to finish this up so I can let two little girls watch funny cat videos on YouTube.  If you are grandparent, you know that the best thing ever invented was funny videos of little cats and little dogs, because no matter what kids want to do (like have me blow up the swimming pool or set up the bouncing castle, you can completely divert their attention with videos of cats and dogs doing silly things.  That, my friends, is your grandfather'ing and grand-uncle'ing advice for the day.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekend Report: Football, Knees, TV and Movies...

It's Sunday morning and my knees are in a ridiculous amount of pain.  But I can live with it, especially given the good time we enjoyed at UTSA's home opener with Oklahoma State University at the Alamodome.
I think the key take away is that, we didn't get thoroughly creamed as I suspect most people suspected.  OSU is just a level beyond where UTSA is at this point in their brief history, but the home team kept it entertaining.  Granted, most of our touchdowns came in the 4th quarter when OSU graciously got some game time for the back-ups, but throughout the game, there were lots of great plays to be proud of.

I loved the enthusiasm of 41,000 fans during this touchdown play.
Oh, prior to the start of the game, Roxanne and Tyler won a Cornhole competition at the State Farm pavilion.  That was pretty cool.  I'm glad all of our hard work paid off!
 And speaking of free advertisements...  Our neighbors up the street, Charles and Kelly, are with a Doc Popcorn franchise and they have several kiosks set-up at the dome.  We happened to see Charles and made sure to buy a bag for Isabella.
Can you tell she loves Doc Popcorn?

There was something a little upsetting during the game.  It was one of those situations where you have to try to understand everyone's point of view.  In the row behind us several seats down, there was a guy who arrived at his seat  holding two 22 ounce Shiners, and he proceeded to stand there, never taking his seat.  When everyone stood for the playing of the National Anthem, he placed one of the beers over his heart.  When everyone sat down, he continued to stand.  This was no big deal until the game actually commenced.  After the kick-off and barring any exciting plays, most people sit down, but this guy continued to stand.
Here's the problem.  Sitting directly behind this guy were several senior citizens who just wanted to watch the game but couldn't see because this guy would never sit down.  There is no written rule (that I'm aware of) that outlines when it is appropriate to sit or stand, so basically, you have to sort of go with the crowd.  If you notice in this picture, nobody else is standing, so, that's your first clue.

Because of where the action was on the field, this guy was blocking the view of more than just the people behind him.  There were people several rows back and to the other side of us yelling for the guy to take a seat.  And this is where principal and beer kind of kicked in.  The guy just flat out said, No.  I man behind him tried to reason with him.  Please, sir, it's the courteous thing to do.  We are all going to stand on big plays, but reasonable thing to do is have a seat when everybody else does.  The guy just looked at him and said No.  Another man piped in, "Look around buddy, you're the only one standing up".  And of course, just then a big play happened and everyone was on their feet.

One man who had been yelling went to the usher, explained the situation and within a minute or two, two police officers arrived.  One stood back in the aisle with taser at the ready.  The other officer, walked down the aisle and tapped the standing guy on the shoulder.  People in the section cheered thinking that this guy was going to be ejected.  But after chatting for a few minutes, the officer left and the guy continued to stand. 

During half-time, I could hear the guy having a conversation with a lady next to him and he was saying that he had been brought up going to college games where you stood the entire game to show support.  To that I say, know your venue.  If you are the only one standing, you're not at the same college you were brought up at.  He did concede to the lady he was talking to that he was in the wrong, but it was the principal principle of it all.
And when the game really got exciting in the 4th quarter, beer had won over principle and the guy was lights out, sitting in his seat.  The man sitting behind him and the little old lady next to him were at least able to enjoy the second half.

I'm curious.  What are your thoughts about this?  Do you think a guy should get ejected for just being a supportive fan?  Do people just need to accept the fact that live, sporting events don't give you the same level of comfort and visibility as watching on TV?  What about when people want to hold up huge signs and posters during the game?  Thoughts?

Shifting gears... I went to the orthopedics guy last week and he said both my knees are shot.  He said I'm looking at both knees being replaced in the next few years if I don't do something now.  In addition to some exercises he wants me to do, the additional weight he wants me to lose, and the Yoga he thinks I'd enjoy, he is putting me on a course of shots to the knees called Euflexxa.  I'll get shots three weeks in a row, and combined with stretching and exercise, I should be good to go, though don't expect to see me jogging up and down the streets.

In the mean time, there is no rhyme or reason to the fact that sometimes, my knees feel fine, but the next minute, there is a sharp pain like a knife grinding into the knees.  Keeping the pain pills handy, but not to the point of having Eva sign me up for that Intervention show on TV.

Speaking of TV:  I have been following Emily, The Real Wife of Ciudad Juarez since I heard her on This American Life.  This week, she posted a pretty harsh review of the FX TV show, The Bridge.  Her points are all valid, talking about how unrealistic the portrayal of characters are, the stereotypes and such.  I get all that and I suspect if we lived there, we'd hate it too.  But in the mean time, I just love that show.  It is a really good mystery.  Suspend your reality and check it out from the beginning, won't you?  And seriously, check out Emily's blog.  If you have ever thought the immigration issue didn't matter, read this lady and you will understand just how screwed up and ridiculous our laws are.

We watched a few good movies in the past week or so.  Oblivion with Tom Cruise was, in my opinion, fantastic.  I am not a science fiction sort of guy (in fact, I still haven't made it through my sister Susan's book in progress yet), but I just loved Oblivion.   And I don't care what anyone says, Tom Cruise is a fantastic actor.

We also checked out a movie called, The Descendents with George Clooney.  What an interesting and moving movie.  Of note, a guy who plays a man who had an affair with George Clooney's wife (who spends the entire movie in a coma) is one of the actors in The Bridge.  Matthew Lillard is also the voice of Shaggy in Scooby Doo.  I Love  We really enjoyed it, and I think you will too.
That's it.  I think I'm caught up here.  I'll leave you with a picture taken by the nice lady sitting next to me at the game.  She kept taking pictures of herself throughout the game, I guess contemplating a change to her profile on FB or something.  So I said, "You are very pretty, but I know how you could look even prettier in your picture."  She said, "Oh really, how's that?"  I told her she should take the picture with me in it.  And she did.  Her boyfriend just laughed at us.  She said we looked good together and I said, Careful now, my wife is just sitting down there.  "Oh no - you're trying to get my ass kicked!"  It was all good fun.