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Random scratch marks in the digital dirt...
July 30, 2003
Herbie Rides No More
Seventy years ago, Adolph Hitler’s government introduced the ubiquitous Beetle to the German people. The end of an era came to a close today in Puebla, Mexico when the 21,529,464th, and final, sedan rolled off of the assembly line. Production in the United States ended in 1977 after the design and engine no longer met federal safety standards, but remained a low cost mode of transportation for many Third World countries.
I note the passing out of nostalgia – over the years I have owned four Beetles. They were, by far, the most fun to drive of any vehicle that I have ever owned. Already an icon by the time that I learned to legally drive, it reminds me of more carefree and simpler times before I had to deal with payments to the mortgage company and the orthodontist. Oh sure, they were temperamental, hot and noisy but they were still a joy to drive.
The first one that I owned brought me back to Texas from Elgin AFB in Florida carrying everything that I owned in the world. I don’t think that a fleet of them could haul all of the possessions that I’ve accumulated at this point in my life. Alas, along with everything in life cars just kept on getting more complex. I can remember tuning the engine on my first Beetle using only a wrench to loosen the nut on the distributor and my ear to listen to the engine idling, first very rough then progressively smoother. Try that on your 2003 Expedition!
So now the Beetle passes into obsolescence, preceded by stuff like the Commodore 64 computer, the F4 Phantom II, the Ronco Bottle and Jar Cutter, Pet Rocks and Abe Vigoda. Ah, the march of time…
Posted by mjwoods at 01:43 PM
July 24, 2003
Big Fish and Monsoons – Vacation Day 2
We awoke to a bright sunny San Antonio day, rested and ready to attack Sea World. I’ve been there twice before, and every time I swear never to return in the summertime. Asphalt everywhere, and few places to cool off. The penguin exhibit is a perennial favorite of mine now. However, it wasn’t that hot – yet…
Denise and Bailey rode the Steel Eel first off. I passed on the opportunity since I wasn’t comfortable leaving my camera in the handy bin at the loading platform. Since I missed out on that ride, Bailey insisted that I ride the Great White with her. That ride had so many twists and corkscrews on it that I almost felt like Tom Cruise in Top Gun. It was fun, though I’ll admit that my first few steps on terra firma after I got off were a bit unsteady.
That was enough excitement for me, and there were fish to see! Dolphins frolicking in their tank. Sea lions making fools out of their handlers. My beloved penguin exhibit, and the chance to cool down a bit. And finally, the Shamu Show!
Everything was pretty much as I had remembered it from my last visit. What was different was the monsoon that was about to hit. The skies had been threatening for about the last hour that we were at the park. After seeing Shamu, a light drizzle started and we beat a path for the parking lot – just in time!
There’s nothing worse than being in a strange town with nothing to do. Denise had brought some research to read for the book that she’s writing. Bailey watched some television and I read some books – first some of The Godfather, then a manual on Adobe Photoshop 7 (what can I say, I’m a geek).
Since the rain didn’t seem to be letting up, we decided to eat an early dinner and retire early. Not the most eventful day, but it sure the hell beat sitting in a cube at my office.
Posted by mjwoods at 11:48 PM
July 18, 2003
Cajuns - Vacation Day 1
I'm sitting here in the relative comfort of my study, drinking a cup of tea and reflecting on the first half of my summer vacation. It was a week of fun and relaxation all courtesy of a total lack of planning on my part.
I guess the entire extended family was very busy this year -- I know that I was. By the time that I looked up from my work, it was the beginning of June and it was impossible to book any rooms on the coast at a reasonable rate. Ah, but things always work out as they should...
I still can't get over just how much time off from work I was given this year, especially since I started in the second quarter. Of course I have to fit vacation around a work schedule that's aggressive, to say the least. This week was the only one that fit into my daughter's, my wife's and my schedule. I decided to schedule two and attempt to catch up on some web design work at church on the second week off.
So, if things had gone as I wanted them to, we'd have spent a week on the coast getting pounded by Hurricane Claudette. What I got was a leisurely tour of the Texas Hill Country.
We left late Monday morning for the drive down to San Antonio. No fixed plans, we just decided to show up and see what accommodations we could secure. Bailey wanted to go to Sea World, so that was the only major attraction planned for the entire trip.
As luck would have it, we hit Austin right about rush hour. Smooth sailing through Georgetown and Round Rock. I was just beginning to think that we were early enough. But traffic started to slow slightly as more cars surrounded us, then we were stopped, briefly – at the Parmer Lane exit. Damn… Cajun country… The pause in the traffic flow was enough to allow me a glance to the west, to smile, to remember and to remind myself that there weren’t any Cajuns around here anymore. I’m not likely to see this one again in this life – but I guess that I'll always look.
Finally, after all of the trips that I’ve made through Austin I remembered to stay on the right side of Interstate 35 when approaching the Capital. The University of Texas and the Capital were just as I remembered them. Hell, 35 was just as I remembered it – under construction. Next trip, I’ll plan on hitting Austin around three in the morning…
It was smooth sailing from south Austin until we hit the loop in San Antonio, but we endured it and got checked into our hotel. We had a quick dinner and headed back to the room to relax and get ready for bed. Well, that’s what I had planned anyway.
Bailey immediately turned on the television, and started watching The Waterboy. A truly insipid comedy, but one that ‘Lil Bit became engrossed in immediately. Sigh… I’d spent part of the afternoon thinking about one Cajun, and now I was confronted with another on the screen. What did it all mean? Are we all destined for something better on this side of the turf, or is life a zero sum gain? Is it right to leave important questions unasked? Is the designated hitter rule the reason for baseball’s decline? Too many things for my pea sized dinosaur brain to contemplate all at once. It was time for bed…
Posted by mjwoods at 09:14 PM
July 01, 2003
There'll Never Be Two Friends Like You And Me...
I'm not sure how I feel about being the facilitator of someone's habit, especially a friend that I love dearly. But when Killer wrote that she was unable to secure a reliable source for her beloved Doritos™ Salsa Verde chips up in Boston, I relented and shipped her six bags. It could be an expensive habit...
The chips were on me, but Killer offered and I accepted her promise to pay the shipping. What I didn't expect was her novel approach to payment, and was surprised when I saw the box from Amazon on the counter in the kitchen. In the box was a book that I had been meaning to order for some time, along with two audio CDs that I had been wanting to give a listen to.
Yes, my memory isn't the best in the world. In fact, it's quite poor. I have ordered a few things in the past few weeks from Amazon, but I knew that I hadn't ordered these particular items. Then I spotted the packing list, saw Killer's name in the billing address section and remembered that all of these items were on my wish list out on Amazon. Thank you sweetheart! Yes, much better than a check!
I've been listening to one of the CDs all evening, Nanci Griffith's Winter Marquee. I heard her on KERA 90.1 a couple of weeks ago singing Speed of the Sound of Loneliness, and just had to have more. Eager with anticipation, I put it in the CD player this morning and started off for work. Very good! Started off with Speed, then into some good solid C&W music more than a hint of folk mixed it. Cruised into work and put the CD into the drink holder on my computer and listened some more.
The sixth track, There's A Light Beyond These Woods (Mary Margaret), kind of snuck up on me. Serendipitous...
THERE'S A LIGHT BEYOND THESE WOODS (MARY MARGARET)
There's a light beyond these woods, Mary Margaret
Have you met my new boyfriend, Margaret
Let's go to New York City, Margaret
The fantasies we planned, oh, I'm living them now
It's nice to see your family growing, Margaret
The fantasies we planned, oh Maggie, I'm living them now
There's a light beyond these woods, Mary Margaret
©1983 Wing & Wheel Music, (BMI)
The number of really close friends that I know that I could call in the middle of the night for help can be counted on one hand. They are one of life's blessings.
Killer and I have only lived in the same time zone for six weeks when we met during Basic Training over half a lifetime ago. Then she was off to New York and getting married when I was in Florida, or in Germany with a son when I was back in Texas, then finally she settled back in her native Boston and raised her family. There's no rational reason why we managed to stay in touch but then, there’ll never be two friends like the two of us are.
Posted by mjwoods at 10:15 PM
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