My parents' motor home, Envoy SUV, and carport protecting both went up in flames overnight, basically burning to the ground. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, although there was ammunition that was going off in the fire.
Five Denton fire trucks came to the house around 4:30 in the morning to put it out. They were there fighting the fire until 7:30.
Amazingly, the flames or embers didn't reach my parents' house. But there was a threat of a propane tank exploding at one point, but Denton's finest got that part of the situation under control.
The important thing is, nobody was hurt, thank God.
I just returned from Molly Ivins' memorial service here at First United Methodist Church in downtown Austin.
I never met Ms. Ivins, and I only saw her speak in public one time, at the Texas Book Festival in 2003.
But I've read her column for ever since I can remember, and I can't think of another journalist for whom I had more respect and admiration, save perhaps Maureen Dowd.
Molly Ivins spoke truth to power, yes. But she always did so with great humor and humility, and never with a mean streak.
Her sendoff today was painfully bittersweet...I'm not sure how else to describe it. But judging from what all the friends and family who knew her best said today, it was clear that how she wrote and how she lived were synonymous.
This line brought down the house: "Next time I warn y'all [the country] that you ought not elect a president from the Great State of Texas, maybe you'll listen to me."
I sure hope so, Molly. Goodbye and Godspeed...you will be missed beyond measure.
I'm writing from a sports bar in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Cowboys and Detroit are playing, and I was bored with being a turista, and it's a friendly crowd here just off the Fina Seca at Manolo's.
Later today, we're going to the New Year's Eve bullfights, and later tonight, I expect we'll end up celebrating New Year's at the Jardin and later at JJ's Harley Davidson-themed bar.
The weather here has been superb, although it was very cold upon our arrival on December 28th after a 12 hour bus ride from Nuevo Laredo and, for a 75 minute leg, Queretaro to San Miguel.
The real estate has gone up significantly since I was last here in 1993...most homes are $300K and up, which I find extraordinary for Central Mexico. But there are mucho Americanos living here, most spending about half a year here and the rest somewhere back up in the states.
My Canon SLR Digital has taken some great pictures, much better than any other digital camera I've owned. I'm expecting to post some of them shortly and will like here from the Turbo blog once posted.
I posted the following yesterday on the Turbo IBM blog...for all you technogeeks out there.
T'was the Night Before Xbox
T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even my mouse.
The stockings were hung by the ThinkPad with care,
In hopes that Virtual Santa soon would be there.
The children were nestled, all snug in their beds
While visions of MySpace danced in their heads.
And mama with her Razr, me my Treo tap tap,
We'd shut down our browsers for a long winter's nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I fired up Google Maps, to see what was the matter.
Away to my Windows, I flew with a crash,
Tore open the shutters, launched the new rev of Flash.
The Google Moon crescent loomed on the new-fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to the oriented objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a virtual sleigh, and eight virtual reindeer.
With my brand new hard drive, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it was Virtual Saint Nick.
More rapid than Ethernet his cursors they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
"Now iMac, Now, Intel! Now, AMD and Vixen!"
On, Taligent! On, NeXTSTEP, On, on DOS and UNIX File System!
To the top of the monitor, to the LAN mount on the wall!
Control-Alt-Delete, Control-Alt-Delete, Control-Alt-Delete All!"
As pixels and icons that with the reboot must fly,
When they meet a general protection fault, and hang in the sky,
So up to the house-top the cursors they flew,
With the sleigh full of iPods, and Virtual Saint Nicholas, too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each virtual hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
In through my Gmail Saint Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed in Linden fur, from his head to his foot,
His avatar all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of eToys, he had flung on his back,
Looking quite the computer geek, scrolling his nimble mouse trac.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose a Blackberry.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
The white beard of his chin, controlled by a macro.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
Electric smoke from his head circling like a big wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like an Xbox on the telly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, up on that fake e-bookshelf.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know, my fertile imagination misled.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a smirk,
And laying his finger aside that big virtual nose,
He gave up a nod, and up my computer screen he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like a Halo-launched missile.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he bolted out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good Skype!"
Well, I arrived in Gulfport, Mississippi via Continental Express around noon yesterday. Flying in from Houston, my plane landed directly near downtown Gulfport, and it was readily apparent that Katrina still hurts a year plus later.
I could see slab after empty slab directly on the coast, and Highway 90 leading into Biloxi was still a bunch of pillars with no visible highway to support...just a bunch of large concrete pillars sticking up out of the Gulf.
Further inland, the damage wasn't still nearly as apparent, although I'm sure it's there. Anyhow, all difficult to see, considering all those old fine homes that used to line the coast.
Today, dad and I played our first Robert Trent Jones Trail golf course, the "Crossing" course at Magnolia Grove just down the road in Seemes, Alabama. It was a very windy day, and it was a bit chilly at first, but the course was fantastic. The LPGA just held a tournament on the very same course last week, although we were surprised that was the case with the condition of the greens, which apparently had just been overseeded.
However, other than the greens, the course was superb and a hard SOB, even on a calm day, which this wasn't. I'm a 15, and I still shot a 97, and was (mostly) happy to have shot it after not having played in a month.
Tomorrow, we'll play the "Falls" course, which is supposed to be even higher caliber than the "Falls." The geography here is absolutely gorgeous...large, undulating hills with lots of elevated greens, and massive tall pines and a scattering of magnolias (hence the name).
We just arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this AM on an American Eagle flight out of Bonaire, Netherlands (Dutch Antilles). Bonaire is the "B" in the "ABC" islands. I was wondering if we were even going to make it out of there. As we boarded the prop plane (some Italian make), somebody ahead of me noticed one of the tires was low on air.
The guy pointed it out to the AA representative, and he said "Don't worry, they'll fix it before we take off." Okay...I'm assuming they did, because we made it off the island.
The Bonaire experience can best be encapsulated in the slogan that appears on their license plates: "Diver's Paradise." And it was. They had to about drag me back on that airplane, and not because the air was low in the tire.
Seriously, on Bonaire, it's all about the diving. The shops. The hotels and resorts. The people. Sure, they mine salt, and cater to all the nice Dutch folk who fly over on KLM from the Netherlands. But if you're a citizen of global scuba diving, you're a citizen of Bonaire.
We stayed at the Divi Dive Resort, courtesy of a recommendation by our Toronto-based travel agent, Squba Holidays (thanks again, Luke!). Divi Dive was hands down the best dive operation I've ever visited with. From the dive gear lockers right next to where the boats come in, to the rinse tanks (one just for cameras), to the shore diving (where we also did our first unguided night dive), to the 90+ incredible dive sites, Bonaire is it, baby. I'm already thinking about a return trip.
The coral reefs in Bonaire are nothing short of spectacular. Forget the superhighway dive sites of Cozumel (which I also love)...Bonaire is all about the country roads of diving. The divemasters coast along at a snail's pace, forcing you to really stop and smell the coral, to take notice of it all. The colors down under Bonaire's clear blue water defy description, but if you think about that super box of Crayons you had as a kid, multiply it times 5 and that will give you some idea of the variety. And the shapes...the closest I can come is a 3D Dali painting.
We did several of the "famous" dives, most all of them off the boat: 1,000 Steps, Angel City, Hilma Hooker (a 250 foot long wrecked Dutch cargo ship), Barkadera, 18 Palms...the list goes on. We also did the world-class "Town Pier" night dive...think of it as an underwater haunted house at night, filled with colorful sea ghosts and marine life. Not for the night dive weary, let me assure you, but with the proper perspective and attention, a remarkable experience.
The land lubber life in Bonaire doesn't exactly provide the sizzle of Aruba, but there are plenty of good restaurants with great variety...Cactus Blue is worth a look...and the sushi place downtown fit our raw fish needs...but know that they all mostly close around 10 (one exception being downtown's Citi Cafe)...
In Bonaire, it's all about the diving. Check out the pics I'll be posting soon on the left...and know that I'm already dreaming about my next Bonaire dive.
I'm writing from a Hollywood-like bungalow (actually it's a Marina Del Rey-like bungalow, as that's where I'm physically located at the moment). I've come out to blog from an IBM conference this week, and got an early start leaving Austin this morning around 11:15 AM and arriving in LA only an hour and a half later, at 12:30. Amazing how fast I got here!
I haven't been to LA in many moons. Every time I get here I remember why I don't get out here more often. Too many cars, too many people, too much smog. But other than that, I really like it.
I'm meeting up with a friend from my hometown for dinner, probably somewhere down in Santa Monica, before heading off to Anaheim tomorrow. Meanwhile, Ed tells me that the Minnow (Gilligan's Island's "Minnow") embarked from Marina del Rey on their ill-fated voyage.
I'll be sure to keep an eye out for Ginger and Maryanne. The rest of 'em can join Jack and the rest of the cast of "Lost." That oughta add some drama to the mix.