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Can’t get there from here

confused rabbit

I am so confused.


When we lived in Houston, my wife used to joke that if something wasn’t on the freeway, Westheimer, or Montrose, Conrad didn’t know how to get there.  I could argue that if something weren’t on the freeway, Westheimer, or Montrose, then you didn’t need to get there, but nonetheless, if I had to, I could find my way around town as nearly every Houston street is laid out on a grid.

But streets in Louisville were laid out, I think, by cows.  Or squirrels.  Or something like that.  There doesn’t seem to be any street that takes you from where you are to where you want to go: you have to go somewhere else first.  You simply cannot navigate by the seat of your pants; for example, taking two right turns is usually equivalent to taking three.  I’ve been here eleven years and still cannot reliably find my way around.

I have recently found a handy Python library that shows this problem quite clearly.  Here is a plot of Chicago streets by their orientation.  You can see how nicely nearly every street lines up on a north-south grid.  Given an address in Chicago, it is straightforward (so to speak) to figure out how to get there.

chicago graph

Here is the plot of Houston streets.  You can see the downtown street grid is a little off north-south, but still, most streets adhere to a orthogonal grid.

Now, here is what you get when streets are paved higgedly-piggedly.  Little rhyme or reason.

Off-menu Specials at the Dentist

Image result for evil toothIt’s National Dental Hygienist Week, which happened to coincide with my regular checkup.

After the usual digging and scraping came the standard question, “What flavor do you want today?  Orange, mint, or strawberry?”, none of which struck me as appealing.

But I have discovered that she keeps other flavors “under the counter” – if you ask.  Today I got Nutella!

Life just gets better and better.


We went to the park today to feed the ducks.

I didn't realize my hair was so grey

I didn’t realize my hair was so grey

There were baby ducks, too.

Including this very little baby which kept wandering away from its parents.
For some reason, everybody called it “Conrad”. I don’t know why.

We Love Bunnies

favorite.animalIt was “Dress as your favorite animal day” at camp.

GC1, and GC2 in the bunny costume GC1 made for her.

Three (or four) birthday parties

A special day today – we were invited to three birthday parties!

The first was the saka dawa celebration at the Buddhist Compassion Center.  Saka dawa commemorates the Shakyamuni Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death.   This was a rather somber affair as birthday parties go, but the girls did get party favors and they met the Buddhist monks.

Then it was off to Indiana to another little girl’s birthday party.  Her father had rented a large, wonderful water slide that was quite a hit with all the kids.

And there was cake, pie, candles – all the usual accoutrements.

Back to Louisville for a party with one of the neighborhood kids.  He got a water rocket (which was fun for both little and big boys).

Finally, their father had a birthday today (actually tomorrow, but he’s on the other side of the Date Line).  Of course, we could only talk to him on the picture phone, but I suppose it was the fourth birthday of the day.


I tried to take a picture, but hey, it was night

I tried to take a picture, but hey, it was night

We took GC1 & GC2 out into the backyard this evening as night fell.  There were lots of fireflies to try and catch, and soon (probably attracted by the fireflies) several bats appeared and swooped among us.  A bunny rabbit was spotted out for late silflay, too.

Opportunity Calls

indexLike a lot of people, we have one of those home phones that announces the caller id when the phone rings.  Like a lot of people, we get robocalls.





and so on.

Today the phone rang and it called out “AWARENESS!”.  I have to admit I thought really hard that maybe I needed to answer that one.

Rocket Park

NASA when I was a little boy.  No kidding.  Really.

NASA when I was a little boy. No kidding. Really.


nasaYou go to Houston, you have to visit NASA.  I hadn’t been in many years, certainly not since they upgraded the visitor center (read: now you have to pay).  There are more exhibits now, and an awful lot of staff – if you want to ride the elevator to the shuttle display, there are two people on each floor, one of whom pushes the button to call the cab for you.  We found that a little excessive.  It’s not really a white glove kind of place.

Us and the Mercury Redstone

Us and the Mercury Redstone

We saw artifacts from the space program that we remembered as kids: an actual Gemini capsule and a Mercury Redstone like the one I watched launch Gus Grissom.

A better view of us

A better view of us


No pretension.

Rooster’s. No pretension.

For lunch today I got together with some old friends that I had worked with for many years.  We met at Rooster’s, an oil-refinery-worker-friendly joint.   A number of us had regularly eaten lunch at Rooster’s in Baytown since the late 1970’s.  Nearly everything is still the same.  My “Henburger” came out on the plate the same way it did decades ago: the patty, bun, lettuce leaf, tomato and onion slice, and steak fries were identically arranged on the plate.  They have moved the front of the building from one side to another, though.  And it’s not $2.75 anymore.

Our table.  No pretension.

Our table. No pretension.

As we were ordering, one of my friends asked about the steak fries.  “Are they battered?”

“No,” the waitress replied.

“They used to be battered.”

“We’ve never battered our steak fries.”

“Maybe not now, but I remember you used to.”

“No, we’ve always cooked them this way.”

I had to intervene.  “It may have been a while back.  We’ve been coming here since before you were born.”

Later, one of the more senior waitresses came over and apologized.  Yes, for a few months several years ago they did batter the steak fries but people didn’t like them, so they stopped.  Our waitress was just too young to know this.  It is not entirely impossible that we had been eating there since before her parents were born.

The Birthplace of Texas

April & new baby

April & new baby

Saturday morning we got up and watched the live birth of the giraffe on the internet.  “What kind of giraffe is that?” CVH asked me.  “I think it’s a Rothschild’s”.  CVH found it very exciting to watch.

After the big event, we decided to relive some Texas history.  We were staying in Deer Park, a block away from a replica of the cabin in which Sam Houston and Santa Anna signed the initial treaties after the Battle of San Jacinto, establishing the Republic of Texas.

Here the kids are posing in front of the cabin.birthplace.of.texas

We then went up the road to the San Jacinto Monument.  They’ve expanded the museum inside quite a bit since I had last visited.

There’s a famous painting of Santa Anna being brought to Sam Houston after the battle to surrender.  It hangs in the Texas State Capitol.  The man at the far right in the painting is John Milton Swisher.  He and his uncle Henry Swisher fought at the battle.

"Surrender at San Jacinto"

“Surrender at San Jacinto”

I am descended from a line of Texas Swishers on my mother’s side.  The family legend is that we have relatives who fought at the battle.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it’s our family legend.

Here are the grandkids outside the monument, with the Battleship Texas in the background.girls.and.battleship

We visited Sylvan Beach and had dinner at the Main 101 Grill and Bar in La Porte.  Their spinach pizza is delicious.  That evening I was relaxing in the whirlpool at the hotel and my wife told me I looked like one of those people in the hotel brochure – sunglasses, big smile, pasty white skin.