Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I just gotta share this one:  10 Photos Capturing Moments of Spontaneous Badassery.  #1 had me laughing until I had tears in my eyes.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Watch this video

A strange and interesting experience today

I was working on the west side today, in that area where all those long, straight streets named San something run off of Culebra.  I got to one place that looked like someone had combined two lots; there was a house close to the street and, off to the side and set back from the street, a second building that didn't look exactly look like a house.  Indeed, this place had two meters, probably from back in the days when it was two separate lots, and I missed one of them so I had to go back and look for it.  A couple of guys who were outside noticed and came over to say hello.  One of them told the other to get me a glass of cold water and he sprinted away to get it.

It turned out that I had stumbled across one of the "Outcry in the Barrio" locations.  According to their Facebook page, their main HQ is somewhere on SW 38th, so I guess this was one of the branch locations or whatever they call them.  You can't work in the streets like I do without having learned something about this movement, or church, or whatever it is.  I had already run into a few of their guys before, but usually they would just nervously hand me a pamphlet and hurry away.  Not these two.  They were fervent and zealous.

So this one guy began telling me the story of the "Outcry" thing in general and his personal story in particular.  Pretty soon the other guy got back with my glass of iced water and he added his own story into the mix.  And then they asked if it would be okay if they said a prayer for me.  "Sure," I said.  I didn't realize that they meant right then and there.

Now, in the Christian church with which I am most familiar, a group prayer is usually "led" by a single person who speaks aloud while everyone else prays silently.  These two guys weren't having none of that.  When they started, they took off.  Heads bowed, speaking clearly and loudly, as fast as they could go.  And they weren't just reciting something from memory.  They were making it up as they went along, speaking specifically about me and my job (they had asked my name so they could use it in the prayer), and they were both saying different things.  I tried to hear all they were saying, but it was like having two songs pumped into different stereo channels and they were going so fast I could barely understand anything.  The most amazing part was when they somehow managed to both finish at the same time.  I had to wonder if they do this in large groups.  What a cacophony it would be to have 100 people doing this all at one time.  I must say I would love to hear it!

And they gave me their book that tells all about their founder's life and how he got it all started.  I do intend to read it.

So it was strange, but kinda cool too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quick movie review

Cowboys & Aliens (2011).  So I just watched this tonight and thought it was pretty good.  Not something that really breaks any new ground or has any life-changing message, just a good flick.  So if you haven't seen it yet, I'll try to avoid any spoilers.

It's a mix, or mash-up, or whatever they call it these days, of two genres:  western and sci-fi.  There are several familiar western tropes that will give it the feel of many other westerns you've seen:  an outlaw trying to go good, an evil cattle baron and his family of bullies who dominate a poverty-stricken town, a meek bartender (who, in this case, is also the town's doctor), a washed-out gold mine, etc.

It turns out that there also extra-terrestrials in the area, and they aren't the friendly kind.  They're the kind that kill anyone and destroy anything that gets in their way, pretty much like the aliens from "Independence Day."  So there's a collision of realities between the extremely advanced aliens and humans from 1873 who have a hard time wrapping their heads around what the aliens really are.

It gets a little too feel-goody toward the end for my taste, but I guess you can't have everything.  I still say it's worth spending two hours on.

As for the guns.  I never heard anyone say the specific year during the movie; the best I could guess was that it was in the late 1860s or early 1870s, not long after the Civil War.  According to the official movie information, it was set in 1873.  Almost all the handguns I saw were cap-and-ball revolvers (a wide variety and I am not skilled enough to identify them all), which would be appropriate for this time period--the Colt Peacemaker (the stereotypical western movie handgun) didn't actually begin production until 1873, so it would be unlikely that anyone in this isolated frontier town would have one.  I did notice one Schofield revolver (which used a cartridge), which began production in 1870 and therefore is not an unreasonable handgun for 1873.  Long guns appeared to be mostly Henry rifles and maybe a few early Winchesters--nothing that was out of place (or rather, out of time).  The only specifically named firearm in the movie, which I recognized as correct, was the Spencer .56.  The Spencer (in case you don't know) was a cartridge-fed repeating rifle that began production in 1860 and there should have still been plenty to go around by 1873.  So, to the best of my knowledge, all the guns were correct!  One thing I especially liked was that the Spencer was the only gun they had that was capable of dropping an alien with a single shot--as long as it was a head shot.  The Spencer fired a very heavy 350-grain bullet, which to the best of my knowledge had a muzzle energy of almost twice any of the other rifles they had (which would have all been .44s of different sorts), and vastly more energy than any of the revolvers.  So the effectiveness of the Spencer made a lot of sense, in my opinion.

Some people always have something to say about the casting, but that's not something really ever interests me very much.  I was surprised to learn that the star was the same guy who's played the latest James Bond, and I think he played a very good western movie tough guy.  There's even an obligatory Carradine (Keith).  I must say that I am not looking forward to the day when a western movie is being made and there are no Carradines left to put in it.  Oh yeah, Harrison Ford is in it.  He played the cattle baron.  I think this is the first time I've seen him play a total bastard* and he was pretty good at it.**

So, in conclusion, if you haven't seen it, check it out.

*Saying anything more about his character would be a spoiler, so that's all you get.

** Has Harrison Ford made any other westerns besides this and The Frisco Kid?

Monday, August 20, 2012

More meter weirdness

Today on my regular cycle 17, which covers a huge swath of ground roughly bordered by E. Southcross, S. Presa, S.E. Military, Roosevelt and Mission Road, I had a new meter-- a niner, which term I've explained before.  It had the address of 1130 E. Southcross, which to the best of my guesses, should have been somewhere right about where that blue dot is on the map below.

There is a new access point for the Riverwalk extension right about there, and I've had several new meters in the past months because of this new Riverwalk construction, so I figured I had found the right spot.  I got out (this is an all-motor route--which means I was driving the whole time) and walked around and saw no fresh water facilities that would require a new meter.  This one has no water fountains or restrooms like some of them do, only purple-lidded irrigation control boxes here and there.  Purple means recycled water.  Which reminds me of another question I've been wondering about:  where in the heck are the recycled water meters that supply all this irrigation?  I have no idea.  Anyway, I couldn't find a meter here so I called in for tap measurements, and for extra help, I also asked for the customer name.

The customer was the San Antonio River Authority, so I figured that it had to be something to do with the Riverwalk extension.  The tap measurement, however, added a new twist.  The description I got was, "between VFW Blvd. and Aquarius next to the San Antonio River."

Right about here I uttered a quiet WTF?

So I drove back around to VFW Blvd., which I thought I had already finished with, and after a couple of passes discovered a new meter right about where that red dot is.

So I checked the meter number and, sure enough, it was the meter I was looking for.  Tapped at the corner of VFW and Mission Parkway, quite a long way away from E. Southcross.  My WTF? still stands.

This route has always had strange things going on with it.  I could probably start a whole blog just about this route.  That's how bad it is.  Maybe sometime I'll tell the story about the new meters at what they eventually decided should be 623 E. Bonner.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Does anyone else see anything funny in this?  Not funny strange, but funny ha-ha.  I actually laughed out loud when I read this.  If anyone wants to take a stab at what I thought was funny about it, leave a comment.  If no one gets it, or if no one cares, I'll update with the answer in a day or two.

UPDATE:  As I said in comments, Brer was correct.  A joke is never funny if you have to explain it, but maybe these pictures will help.

Band of Horses

The Beach Boys

Fleet Foxes

 Isaac Watts

UPDATE 2: Here's the review I posted at

Sunday, August 12, 2012

just a comment

I found this article at Snopes interesting:  Guitar Man.

Back in the 80s when I was an aspiring keyboardist, I would go to Hastings sometimes and buy the piano score books to albums and groups that I liked.  One of the books I bought was for Styx's Paradise Theater.  Remember the beginning of the song "Snowblind"?  It has a bass line with a sort of arpeggiated keyboard riff over it.  I tried and tried to get the hang of that piece, but never could.  I didn't seem to have enough hands.

Then one day I bought a video of them in concert, and they played that song.  The bass part, of course, was played by Chuck Panozzo on his bass guitar.  The keyboard part was, of course, being played by Dennis De Young on a synthesizer.

"WTF?!" I thought.  "This part takes TWO professional musicians to play and I'm supposed to play both parts myself?!"

I did learn to play "The Best of Times" and could crash through "Half Penny, Two Penny" fairly well, but did I ever master "Snowblind"?  Nope.

But even worse: the repetitive downward key change

I hate to post so much on this because people might think I'm suddenly back to frequent posting again, and that just ain't so, but this song frikkin' drives me nuts.  Same goes for "I've Seen All Good People" by Yes.

In reference to the previous post

Here is a pertinent website:  The Truck Driver's Gear Change Hall of Shame.  Even if you didn't know what I was talking about in the last post, spend a while on this site and you will understand fully.

Although, I do have some quibble with their name.  It was obviously coined by someone who is unfamiliar with shifting a big rig.  In fact, several people I have run into have commented on a loud noise made by a truck, saying that they were down-shifting, when in fact it was only the driver turning on his unmuffled jake brakes.  I hear trucks doing this all the time on IH35 in downtown S.A. and lemme tell ya, there is simply no excuse for this in the flatlands.  It's just laziness and bad driving.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rhonda Vincent - Sunday Mornin' Singin' LIVE!

Well, I got it.  I've been taking advantage of that free music offer that Valero is doing when you buy a 44 oz. fountain drink.  Also I've torn a few credits from cups that people tossed in the street instead of putting in the trash.

As I had mentioned before, this is a collection of gospel songs, or gospel-related songs performed in her usual bluegrass (or bluegrass-related) style. They were all recorded live, and these are the most well-behaved audiences I've ever heard on a live album.  Most of these songs don't even sound like they came from a live performance until you hear the applause at the end of each piece.

Most of these songs are original, but there are a few old traditional hymns in the mix.  One song, "His Promised Land," is performed a capella (nothing but voices), but for some dumb reason they stick a half-step up key change in the middle of it.  This is a typical trick in pop music to keep a boring song from sounding quite too boring, and in the vast majority of cases it's musically illogical and irrelevant.  Suddenly changing key without reason between stanzas of a hymn is just weird and jarring.  I felt like someone sneaked up and poked me in the stomach without any provocation.

I'm listening to it as I write this, and just came across another song with a similar unnecessary key change.  I hate to harp on this, but man it's just not right.  But I'm sure her audiences have been conditioned through listening to so much pop music* that they expect it and to them it sounds good.

Now where was I?  Oh yeah, there are a few old traditionals here:  Just As I Am, God Put a Rainbow in the Clouds, Joshua and The Old Rugged Cross.  Possibly a couple of others, I'm not sure, but those are the ones I'm familiar with.  In the case of "Just As I Am," I could go so far as to say terribly familiar. But this version I like.  It's a little faster than I'm used to hearing it, and it's got a nice little swing to it that makes it sound like a waltz.  She sings only three stanzas, which is probably a very good thing or she would've had to stick in a couple of those modulations just to keep people from drifting.  The most "complete" version I know of has six stanzas.  Once, during a particularly long and grueling service, we sang the whole thing through twice.  Twelve stanzas of "Just As I Am" at once.  I must admit that we might have benefited from a couple of key changes that time.

Unfortunately, since I downloaded this, I didn't get any documentation with it.  I'm going to have to look up most of these songs and see if they are traditional hymns or not.

Okay, two a capella songs, the one previously mentioned and another called "Fishers of Men."  She has a really good group of singers with her.

All in all, a great album in spite of my personal little gripes that don't matter anyway.  I'm not going to say that I recommend it because I doubt that any of my readers listen to much gospel or bluegrass, but if you do, you should get it.  And please note that by "gospel" I do not mean "contemporary Christian."  As a general rule, I don't listen to lame pop music, no matter what the lyrics are about.

I might have to eventually buy this on CD anyway just to get the documentation on it.  If anyone reads this who has the CD, I would be very thankful if you'd go to the trouble of scanning and emailing me the booklet.

*When I say "pop music," I don't just mean what most people refer to as "pop."  I mean pop, rock, modern country...pretty much anything that's not classical, jazz or old hard-core country/folk, which has much more in common musically with classical than it does with modern "country."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Some people have all the luck

Some guy bought a flat-screen TV from a third-party seller via Amazon, and got a rifle instead. [Thanks to Hell in a Handbasket].

The only such screw-up I've ever had myself was once several years ago when I bought an alto sax mouthpiece from some guy on eBay.  A few days later I got a large box--so large I had to go to the post office to pick it up, and I'm thinking, WTF?  He used this to ship a mouthpiece?  It was a cubical box about 15-16 inches on a side.  So I open it up, and it's not a mouthpiece.  It's a suspended cymbal without the stand, just the cymbal.  I emailed the guy and told him he had shipped me the wrong item, and he replied that he hadn't shipped my mouthpiece yet and he didn't know what I was talking about.  So, since I couldn't tell by the return postal address if it had come from him or not, I wrote an actual snail-mail letter to the return address saying what happened.  A few days later the mouthpiece arrived.  I  waited a couple of weeks and never got a reply to my letter.  So I knew a guy who played drums in a band and asked him if he could use it.  He said sure, so I sold it to him for about the same price I paid for the mouthpiece.

So the cymbal paid for the mouthpiece, which means I got a free mouthpiece, but I never did learn how I got the cymbal.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Here's a paint job I like

Today I did a route that looked only vaguely familiar to me, until I saw this and remembered it.  I do this route maybe once a year, a cycle 10 in the Thousand Oaks/Jones-Maltsberger area.

I'm pretty sure this is a "vintage" RV.  It's a GMC and I don't think I've ever seen any other RV with a "GMC" on the front grill.  Parked directly behind this one--you can't see it from this angle--is a gleaming silver Airstream, which is probably also getting to be a classic.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012