|Back home! It’s warm,
so no cookie for me.
The weather cooperated Thursday morning, and I had a pleasant 25-ish mile morning ride. I had my helmet, but if I ever do a bike rental again, I’m going to bring a couple of tools to adjust things and change a flat. Thankfully, I didn’t have a flat, but if I did, I would have been pretty horked, armed only my nearly-depleted cell phone. I did need my universal toolkit because the steering tube thingie was slightly loose, unaligning itself directionally. While I’m bringing my entire toy entourage, I might as well have brought the Camelbak. Austin es caliente.
I rented a Rans Stratus, pictured to the right. The first thing I noticed is it’s got a hella long wheelbase. Maneuvering it in and out of the narrow corridors of the San Jose Hotel was part of the challenge. The other challenging aspect was initial acceleration. Once I’d push off with my right foot, I’d wobble and simultaneously try to work my other foot out of the dead spot whilst also banking to the right to stay out of traffic. After two or three cycles, I was mostly pointed straight. It was … just like riding a bike… until I had to make right turns. And then, there was much theatrical leaning, twitchy steering and foot skipping.
The bike worked out a different set of muscles. Whereas on my normal bike I tend to use my calves and thighs, today my glutes and toes were sharing the love. The glutes didn’t mind, but the extra stretching of toes, possibly as an artefact of not using clipless pedals, aggravated something in my big toe.
After biking, I cleaned up and finished packing. My friend Elisa picked me up at the hotel. We dropped off the bike at EasyStreet, then she gave me a tour of her stomping grounds. Lunch was at Hoover’s.
Houston’s airport has an “MSNBC” store for the fans of the joint venture of Microsoft’s MSN division and “National Broadcast Corporation.” I clearly don’t watch enough television to grok the references or fully leverage the souvenir acquisition opportunities available in this store. About the only thing useful to me was a kiosk set up to pull up the MSNBC web site. Its connection was painfully slow. (Marketers take note: bad connectivity is not the way to showcase your connectivity products.) It wouldn’t let me go to a site directly, but I could “search” for the site and get to it that way. I thought about a clever answer to Helena’s the jedi mind-trick question.
If MSNBC rates a physical store, why not a “Weather Channel Store,” for us weather junkies who flip through the 76-channels of nothing on only to come back to where we started. (I flip a lot when they go to commercials, though.)
All airport stores seem required to dedicate space to the “standard stuff,” or what my wife refers to as “tourist shit:” over-priced regional comestibles (4cm-long Texas jelly beans, which I was almost tempted to get until I saw the $5 price tag; De Jardine’s salsa at $6.99/jar); T-shirts (Gig ’em, Hook ’em, Fight song fight. Now we’re gonna return to Flight!); over-the-counter medicines; mass-market paperbacks and… magazines. The remaining third of the shelf space for:
- Real-time doppler radar — For a buck, you get to superimpose a bitmap of the your incoming connecting flight doing holding patterns on the other side of the squall line.
- Hurricane footage — Enjoy cub reporters’ standing in the horizontal rain, yelling the patently obvious in hopes of becoming the next Dan Rather. The special bonus room lets you superimpose your own face and voice
on a commerative video tape saying “Live from Hurricane Your Child’s Name Here, I’m Your Name Here,
Channel Your Station News! Back to you, Geraldo!”
- St. Helens in a Box — Okay, volcanoes aren’t weather, but they influence it. After mixing the mystery ingredients (baking soda, vinegar, and mud), shake for a geological 15 seconds and watch the magma spew all over the kitchen. Kids would love it. (Insert joke about disaffected college students not graduating “magma cum laude” 😉
The flight from Houston was painfully long, but the flight attendants did everything in their power to ensure no one slept well on the flight. “Care for a reheated spinach sarcophagus?” or “Fractional serving of a caffeinated, carbonated beverage?”
Luggage karma was good as my bags were in the first lot to come off the conveyor. SeaTac’s baggage claim area is one of the gloomiest places on earth. It’s poorly lit — apropos for the suicide capital of the conterminous US — but the layout is not intuitive. Once you get your bag, you have to navigate through thick crowds back up to the middle deck. The stairs stairs are hard to do with a heavy bag; both elevators are jammed thick with strollers and confused people going to the wrong floor; and the escalators are decorated with
liability insulation placards warning people not to bring bags with wheels on the ‘s’later. They’re still the best option, though you have to get past people who aren’t psychologically ready to deal with moving stairs.
Off-site parking karma was also good. The shuttle arrived one minute later and my car was not towed. I lost my “internet discount” coupon, but merely asking for the price was sufficient to get it. I-405 was surprisingly congested for 11pm, but the HOV lane was fair game for all.
I got home at 11:45pm. Although the outside temperature was 15°F cooler than Austin, my house doesn’t have air conditioning, hence the Oscar icon above.
My friend Elisa asked me if I missed Austin. In some ways, I do. However, I like where I’m living now. I realized the other day that this is the longest I’ve lived in the same place. This is my “home.”