Tuesday, January 31, 2006

You want this browser. You NEED this browser.

If you haven't yet (and there's NO good reason why you haven't), go download the Firefox Browser NOW. I've been using it for about two months now, and I can't believe it's taken me so long to do so. I was using Netscape for years, since I hate Explorer and I'm scared to death of the security risks. Firefox is a whole lot safer, which is sets me at ease. The best thing is that it allows you to clear EVERYTHING when you close the browser, including all cookies and history. You get tabs, and a built-in search bar that you can set to Google. I don't have Thunderbird, the email program companion, since I have a PDA that needs Outlook, but I put it on my wife's computer, and I really like it. Just do it already!

Super Secret Dance Society

Holy crap! I think I'm hooked. Agent is HOT.

If I can convince Jennifer that it's a good way to exercise, I may become an agent. Here ya go.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Update: Jennifer Love Hewitt and ESPN.com

I tried to find more references by Bill Simmons to Jennifer Love Hewitt, but ESPN.com's search function isn't very in-depth. It leaves something to be desired. Here's what I wrote to their feedback link:

"While your search on the surface seems to be great, in-depth it leaves something to be desired. For instance, I wanted to search for each time Bill Simmons references his wife's utter disgust for Jennifer Love Hewitt. So I typed in "Jennifer Love Hewitt" in the search bar. What I got were three hits, and only one of them was a Simmons article. Apparently, the search is set to look at titles, not the text of the articles. What a gip! I know Simmons has written at least thrice about Hewitt and the apparent seething disdain she draws from other females. Can you help me, please, find the other references by Simmons to the hated Hewitt? Thank you."

Can someone please help me? I want an easy way to find all of Simmons' reference to Hewitt. As early as two weeks ago, I remember a link on ESPN.com's Page2 to Simmons' Reference Guide, and it was easy to search. However, it is now, sadly, gone. Oh well. Please help!

My wife hates Jennifer Love Hewitt. I mean, the level of hate reaches Jeter proportions. She says Hewitt is a "dime a dozen" and doesn't think she's pretty enough to warrant the attention, plus she says Hewitt posesses zero talent.

Whenever I mention "Jennifer Love Hewitt", I love to see the reaction I get. It comes in phases:

1. A casual shake of the head, like she's trying to get water out of her ear.
2. An annoyed look of minor disgust (only if the word "talent" or "beauty" is used in conjunction with the name "Jennifer Love Hewitt".
3. A look of utter disgust when she realizes many men thinks she's hot.
4. A seething reaction of hissing through her teeth coupled with an object flying toward the television (if Jennifer Love Hewitt is on the TV).

This reaction seems to only be reserved for Jennifer Love Hewitt. For some reason, she doesn't mind Mariah Carey, whom I think has gotten hotter lately now that she's gotten thicker. I've heard that many women hate Jennifer Love Hewitt, but I never understood the level of hatred until my wife reacted as above about two years ago. Can someone explain this to me?

For possible explanations, go here or here, courtesy of Bill Simmons, my favorite author from ESPN, the Worldwide Leader.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

T'aint the House, T'aint the Senate...

The "Taint". We all have it. But one Congressman just couldn't help himself in this interview from talking about it. This is in reference to the Abramoff/DeLay fallout, and this is an interview of one of his hopeful successors. Check it out.

Or: http://www.youtube.com/?v=7cLDzAqNUyI

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It's the Chronic - WHAT? - cles of Narnia! No, but it's actually the West Coast response to Chris Parnell's and Andy Samberg's (of Saturday Night Live) hilarious "Lazy Sunday", called "Lazy Monday" or "Color Me Mine". Not quite as funny, but giggle-worthy nonetheless. Have fun!


"Crankin the NPR on the 405!"

I found a very funny post on someone's blog:

In short, he thinks Tim Duncan should have given Glenn Robinson the Finals MVP award from last year's Spurs championship. He provides some funny analysis, but I replied to him that I can put some arranged facts and circumstances to prove that Lloyd Daniels was the one factor in the history of the Spurs organization that single-handedly changed the course of the Spurs for the better. Well, him and Dwayne Schintzius.

Back with more later.

Here's a funny spoof of Brokeback Mountain and Top Gun. I wish I could quit you, Goose.

If you can't see it, here's a link: http://www.youtube.com/?v=fAifGjz86Pc

Have a great day.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I saw Brokeback Mountain today. First, I know..."holy crap, Cristian! You saw a CHICK FLICK with your wife during the F'IN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS!?!?!?!" Well, yes. Here's why:

1. Today was Jennifer's only day off this week. Yesterday she had to go to The Woodlands (Why the hell is the "The" in "The Woodlands" capitalized? That makes me hate them even more. Pretenious pricks.) for a color guard contest, and for some reason I agreed to head up there so we could spend at least one Saturday together. So I figured I'd "take one for the team" and hang out with her some more. She put the whole "we always watch sports, I never get to watch what I want to" argument on me; I gave a minor protest, then relented. Little does she realize that every time we go see a movie we see one that SHE wants to see: Harry Potter, The Producers, et. al. But whatever. She gets a little victory today.

2. We have TiVo. Now, normally I'm vehemently opposed to TiVo-ing sports events, especially those of high-importance like the NFC/AFC Championships are, but after about 10 minutes into the Denver/Pittsburgh game, I figured the Steelers were a team of destiny, why fight it, I'll listen to them blow away the Broncos on the way to the theater. So I TiVoed the Seattle/Carolina game, and had to put Desperate Housewives on the timer of the office vcr (the bedroom TiVo was set to record other shows that I can't live without). I told some friends to not call me with updates, or I'll pour jalapeno juice in their eyes. I didn't tell them why, though...

3. I had to see for myself why this movie won so much.

Okay, if you haven't seen it yet, go away. This will spoil it for you. While I appreciate the fact that it may be groundbreaking cinema, I didn't particularly feel this film was deserving of its current status as a watershed film or best of the year. Here's why: IT'S A F*&%$ING CHICK FLICK! I don't care about the gay part. I didn't want to see Cold Mountain. I hated Terms of Endearment. I was bored during this film. Even during the butt scene. If this film had Angelina Jolie instead of Heath Ledger, I would still think this film was average. But since it dealt with homosexuality (or the denial of it), it's now on the AFI top 50? Come on!

I think the butt scene arrived too quickly. I could be wrong, and I already discussed this with my wife, but I didn't see any sexual tension or flirting or anything between the two before that scene in the tent. That moment completely caught me off guard, and not because of the sex. If it were m/f, ok, that would make sense. But one Macho Cowboy (Ledger) and one closet case (Gyllenhall) DON'T accidentally hump out of the blue. I blame Ang Lee for this. He should have established some sort of beyond-guy-bonding relationship between the two, and he failed to do that for me. I mean, it's a BIG DEAL for a guy to bat for the other team all of a sudden, and for Ledger's character to do it so easily seems very unlikely to me. **NOTE: If there were a montage of them brushing hands whilst reaching for whiskey or catching glances of each other while bathing, ok. But there wasn't a montage with sappy violin music. Just a dude freezing outside, then BANG! Doesn't make since to me.**

Plus, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe it was a testament to how much they loved each other, but they never fought after that first summer together until their last meeting. It was all just lovey-dovey, like a fantasy (that's why chicks dig this film). Too much happiness for a long time (at least, as far as THEIR relationship was concerned), without much strife. Then, and here's another one, BANG! Jack Twist is dead. There's the other shoe! But it took you 2 hours for one bad moment to happen to them? Come on!

Aside from that, there's still a few issues I didn't like with the film. For instance, I truly believed in Ledger's character's faitfulness to his heterosexuality. He was in love with a PERSON, and not a man. I could tell he loved women, but he just happened to fall in love with a person who happened to be a man. Ok? But Gyllenhall's character (Jack Twist) is another story. He's gay. He said he wasn't, but he so was. That's why he never divorced his wife (who was hot, by the way), and kept going to Mexico; he was in denial. But I think Lee should have dwelled more on that to shine a light on the fact that Jack tortured Ennis with his homosexuality by denying Ennis his hetero-ness. I dunno, I may just be talking out of my ass, but I think the film is overrated. And too long. Just like The Shining is too long. It was just a glorified chick flick, and those movies and films just never make it in my book. Just my opinion.

Another thing: Jen and I had to drive an hour to Houston to see it. It's not showing here in Lake Jackson. Big surprise. However you feel about the film, it's meant (the artform, not just this film) to be provocative. That's what art is. See/hear it first, then you can say you hate it. But if you choose to remain sheltered, then you and your children will remain unenlightened to the world around you. So go see a movie about homosexuals. Drink a little. Talk to your kids about drugs instead of pawning that little responsibility off to schools. Make your children into better earth-citizens, and not just cookie-cutter kids that don't know anything about art, music, theatre, literature, or film. Let them live. When I was growing up, I went to a mix of public and private schools. The worst kids (in terms of "if you were a parent of this kid, would you freak out if you knew what they were doing and capable of?") were always, and I mean ALWAYS the ones with over-protective parents, ESPECIALLY at the private schools. You know the type: Never letting Junior go to parties, making them go to church 6 days a week, or prohibiting them to see movies rated PG-13, or never letting them drink Kool-Aid or no video games, or no driving until 18 years old, etc. Then they got to college, and they were the sluts who had sex with different guys every weekend, the drugheads who always went to class high, and the losers who were in school for 7 years (ahem), all because they never got it out of their system. It happens every time, and when I meet these types of parents, I think, "Man, your kid is gonna be f*&%ed up when s/he's 22!"

My point is, show Brokeback Mountain in conservative towns. If anything, it'll piss them off enough to go to the theater to protest, and you'll make money. Works everytime.

Now go raise your kids. Tell them to go vote. Just tell them the truth. Don't lie to them, and expect them to think like you do. Because then they'll go to college, learn a whole lot of stuff, and then hate you the rest of your life. I love my mother, because she let me think for myself. Even though we ended up on the same side of the fence as far as politics, she didn't force anything down my cranial throat. God bless her. I figured all the other shit out on my own.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What the hell happened at Fuddrucker's? My wife and I went there last weekend (on 59 South between Wesleyan and Edloe), and we both were very disappointed that they had CHANGED THEIR BUNS! This is extremely disturbing, since I love Fuddrucker's for their specific buns. So soft and light, yet sweet and satisfying. I love their buns! But not anymore. Damn! What the hell did they do? I really hope they had just run out of dough (it was 10pm, anyways) or the oven was broken. Either way, the replacement bun was too big and tall, but not the fluffy big, but Texas Toast thick and way too small diameter-wise. Usually the bun hangs around the meat, but this bun was barely large enough to contain it. And it didn't have that signature sweet taste. It was just bread. Imposter bread. I hated it, and Jennifer was quite disappointed to the point of not being able to finish her burger. We should have complained to the manager, but didn't in the hopes of exigent circumstances. But so help me, God, if it happens again, I'm getting my burger comped. And if it's a permanent change, I'm never going to Fuddrucker's again. Except for their hot dogs.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Traffic. We all hate it. But we choose to live further away from the things/places we need to get to. You lie in the bed you make, right? Sure, that's a fair argument. But it can also be said that we need better traffic mobility in order to ensure metropolitan cohesiveness and viability. I belong to this latter category. I think that just because I live in Lake Jackson, which is in southern Brazoria County, I should be able to get to I-10 West (Katy Freeway) without having to go north, then west, then north again (288 North to the Beltway 8 West, then Beltway 8 North, then to I-10) before back-tracking west. Or get on SH 36 and go through a bunch of small towns where I have to slow down or stop completely. It's a waste of time and fuel. Especially if I want to visit San Antonio or Austin.

What am I getting to? The Grand Parkway, or Texas Highway 99. This is an as-yet-to-be-completed "Super Loop" around the Houston area on the furthest reaches of urban areas. However, I think it is an immensely important artery: When I went to Sugar Land every day, I would take SH 288 North (a good 4-lane freeway), exit SH 6 (at times a 6-lane highway--NOT A FREEWAY) all the way through Missouri City and Sugar Land to just north of US 90A. The first leg, 288 north, would take me about 25 minutes for a 33-mile trip. The next leg, SH 6, would take about 40 minutes for a 21-mile trip, longer in the afternoons. My point is that if there were a viable option to SH 6, more of a through-fare expressway to Sugar Land and beyond, my trip would take only 45 minutes instead of 65-80 minutes. That's a 25% reduction!

Right now, I often use the Grand Parkway to get through the last leg of the "Beltway Route" to San Antonio/Austin: When I'm on the Beltway, I exit the for the new Westpark Tollway, take it west to the GP, and go north on the GP to I-10. I don't use the southern portion of the GP, however, because that section is not a freeway. Too many curves, stop lights and stop signs. What a shame. While it is a boon for the new subdivisions/developments out there in West Houston/Ft. Bend County, the GP is not so much a through artery as it is a street in a rural area. But there are plans to make a larger artery, and a complete, third loop around the Houston area.

The completed Grand Parkway would be just the artery that is needed. Not only for us Brazoria County residents trying to get north/west, but also for the Fort Bend County folks trying to get south or east, especially out to Galveston to their pricey beach homes. For them, it would allow them to bypass the Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8 for the cheapskates), and I-45. For us Brazorians, it would provide faster access to I-10 towards San Antonio/Austin, rather than going up SH 36, a mostly rural, two-lane highway with frequent stops, slow-downs and re-routes in small towns. As it is right now, and the information I have seems to be out-of-date by one year already, the segment of the Grand Parkway that would serve our needs here (Section C), has already been slated for construction, and has finished with environmental studies and such.

Why is this important, you may ask? Well, because our neighbors to the north in Spring, Texas decided that they don't want the Grand Parkway built in their neighborhoods. I can empathize with them, and understand their viewpoints. Check them out here or here. What I find interesting about stopthegrandparkway.com or Save Our Spring or United to Save Our Spring is that they're using arguments that don't make sense. For instance, they say the Grand Parkway Association (the entity in charge of securing Right of Way and funding for the project) sells the Hurricane Evacuation Route as a reason for the Parkway, and then they try to refute it by saying the road would flood anyway, making it useless. What they don't understand is that evacuations are done BEFORE a hurricane, not during or after. Didn't they remember the Rita mess? Another argument they use is the redundancy factor: There's already two outer freeways around Houston, and a quasi-third (the before-mentioned SH 6, coupled with FM 1960--but as I said, they're just 6-lane roads through suburban sprawl with UBER-HIGH traffic volume and signal lights...) loop; isn't that enough? My answer: NO, IT IS NOT ENOUGH! I bet as the well-heeled Spring-ites are sitting in traffic on Spring-Cypress Road or Gosling Road, they're cussing and honking, pissed-off at the 70-minute drive they have from downtown to their 6-bedroom red brick homes. THEY NEED THIS ROAD. They say they're concerned about the GP being within 1000 feet of schools. Hello? Have you seen Cinco Ranch HS in Katy? How about Tomball HS or even your precious Spring HS or Cy-Fair HS? They also cite health. Please. You live in Houston, Texas, for crying out loud. You knew air quality and the lack of fit and trim people here were horrendous before you moved here from back east. Nevermind the fact that you probably don't use proper air filtration in your home for your precious children or you don't buy organic, pesticide-free food for them.

My whole point is: "Think of the bigger picture." No, a re-routing through The Woodlands wouldn't work, since the GP would take too big of a northward swing to be practical. Sorry, Spring, but you're just outta luck. That's the way things go sometimes in this world. Now you know how all those inner-city folk feel when they're displaced by developers or politicians for new condos or sports stadiums. I don't have the least bit of sympathy for you. You can afford it. And if you're so concerned about the resale value of your home, then why did you pay so much for it? I do NOT consider a home an appreciable asset, especially one so far away from a major urban, central business district. Just look at home prices now: they had their first dip in 6 years last month. Sorry.

I would love for those opposed to the GP extensions to post their comments here. I'll try my best to rebut, and maybe we can have a civil discourse here. I won't hold my breath, though.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Jeez, I think I can somehow predict the future. This morning, the day after I posted about San Antonio traffic, I find this story on the Express-News' site. Turns out they ARE building a new interchange at 281/410! Not only that, but they're saying it'll be finished in two years. That's crazy talk! Way to go, TXDoT! Here's a cool, no, make that superb site on San Antonio's freeways. It gives you the history of all the freeways in SA, and why they were or weren't built and how. In addition, it gives you info on Texas driving laws, signs, and other things. Very interesting!

Ok, that's all for now.

Like I said, here are some more pix from Chicago. A couple of things:

1. The Hancock Tower is WAY better than the Sears Tower, especially at night. You get a better view of downtown and can see more of the city for some reason.

2. You must eat at Giordano's. It's like you must go to Tavern on the Green in NYC. Get their Deep Dish Pizza. But get the small. It's too big even for two people, even me! And I can eat like a retard!

3. You must walk all of Michigan Ave, say from Soldier Field all the way to the Hancock Center. Trust me. Also, bring your credit card. Great shopping, especially near the Symphony and of course on the Magnificent Mile on N. Michigan.

4. Take a cab the first day or two you're there (this is good advice for any city, BTW). This lets you see the city while you're getting around, and you can ask the cabbies about the good stuff. They know. Trust me. Then, you can use the public transportation, when the purpose is getting there, rather than sightseeing. In our case, we didn't have enough time in Chicago to use the EL, but in NYC we used the Subway the last two days we were there. Awesome.

5. If you need suggestions on restaurants/clubs etc., use metromix. It's the nightlife section online of the Chicago Tribune. Great info there.

Have fun out there.

So you know I'm from San Antonio, right? Well, here's a few sites I've found that make me feel good and miss my hometown.

1. Keep San Antonio Lame - Great site with stories and links about how SA is lame. It should make me mad, but I kinda like it.

2. Deadmalls.com - Interesting site with stories on malls of yore. The only one from San Antonio is Windsor Park Mall, the mall that got me through puberty. I had my first kiss there with Jackie Dumlao. I remember where I was, too: on the second floor walking in front of Finish Line, and we were with her friend (I forgot who, though).

3. Windsor Mall video - Neat video about a girl looking for shopping in Windsor Park Mall, which is now a ghost town. Kind of sad, really.

4. Modsnap.com - A kind of web magazine about different happenings in the lives of real San Antonians. Interesting stuff about art and photography. I wish there were more shoots around SA landmarks, but the other stuff is refreshing, too.

5. My San Antonio - Joint site by the Express-News and KENS-TV. It's the official site of the E-N, but I think it should be more comprehensive and easy to use. Oh well, at least you get to read about the Spurs.

Speaking of San Antonio, did you know they're talking about building toll roads there? Actually, that's a good thing. I like toll roads, and I think that since now I'm in Houston, I am very thankful for the tollways, especially the new Westpark Tollway. But in San Antonio, you might as well tell the citizens that David Robinson is a satanist, rather than tell them that toll roads are the only way they're getting new roads. But damn, do they need it! I mean, have you driven there lately? I've been there for summers and holidays visiting home for the past 10 years, and I'm amazed at the traffic changes over that time. WOW! SA needs about 5 new thruways/freeways in key areas, namely:

1. I-35 South (Downtown to Loop 410)

2. Loop 1604 North (from I-10 East to US 90 West): at least 4 lanes both ways! Come on, developers, couldn't you have helped out a bit when you built all those neighborhoods north of the loop?

3. I-35 North (Downtown to Randolph Blvd.): ESPECIALLY the 35/410W interchange. Whomever conceived that design ought to have his/her eyes washed out with jalapeno juice.

4. US 281 North (Downtown to 1604): DUH! And how about making a real interchange at 281/410 near the airport?

Hope this makes things better, but they'll all have to be toll roads. It's only fair that we pay for the roads we use.

"But wait," you say, "You live in Houston, Cristian!" That I do, friends. But I think transportation issues are hyper-important for everyone in the state. Everyone must be able to get around. I go to Dallas and am amazed at the maze you must drive to go from Lewisville to the Ballpark at Arlington, or the big clusterf*** in Fort Worth at 820/121 or 820/I35N. Hell, try going through Austin on either I-35 or MoPac in the afternoon. I dare you. No one likes going to places where traffic sucks. At least here in Houston the mayor has put traffic as his #1 priority, and so far, he's doing a good job. Let's hope everyone else in the state has their head on straight, too.

Let's see, what else? I'm now teaching lessons at Taylor HS in Katy, thanks to my good friend Chris Bailey. He's hooked me up with a few lessons on Thursdays, and hopefully he'll get me some more. Until then, I'll still be holed up at the house Tuesdays and Wednesdays with nothing to do except be a good househusband. I don't mind so much anymore, since Jen likes the fact that I'm home when she gets home and have dinner waiting in a clean house. Talk about a role reversal, huh? But I'm ok with that. I know she still loves me.

Well, that's all for now. I'll post some more pix from our Chicago trip immediately. Peace!

Friday, January 13, 2006

I just wanted to say today:



Friday, January 06, 2006

Here's some pix from Chicago just before Christmas.

I'll post a few more later.

Natividad Hernandez - December 25, 1910-December 27, 2005

Heres a link to my grandfather's memorial page, with a nice note from one of my cousins.

Now, about Leon's:
For over 30 years, my grandfather went to Rockne, Texas every day for a beer, except Sundays when we all went over to his and Grandma's house. The regulars there at Leon's Country Store called him Mr. Nat, and he even had his own chair. Whenever someone was sitting there when he walked in, that person always got out of the chair for him. He loved that place, even at 95 years old. He had at least one beer a day, despite a heart attack 15 years ago and cancer 7 years ago. Sometimes he would drive himself, up to about 2 years ago, or had one of his children drive, or even someone else. He was always wearing his Leon's trucker hat, blue mesh and underbill, white front. I've always known him in that hat.

He had a farm when I was growing up, and I remember on Sundays my cousins and I would chase the chickens or harass the hens in the coop. We'd run around the fields, walk down to the country store, and set off firecrackers. We loved Sundays, and for me the best part was lunch when we all got there. Pot luck, and pot bellies afterward. Yum!

I'll miss him, and I'll miss everything he was about. He loved his family and his friends, and Sundays or holidays were our way of giving it back to him. I last saw him on Christmas Day, which was also his 95th birthday. All his family was there, all 6 living children, his 21 grandchildren and their children. We sang Las Mananitas and Happy Birthday, ate good food, and just enjoyed everyone's company. Every year, he cries when we sing to him, and I think it's because he missed his wife. We love him, and we'll miss him.

Whew! It's been a weird month.

December 16: Jen gets out of school early (one day early, too!), and we fly to Chicago via Southwest Airlines. Flight scheduled to leave at 5:15, but delayed till 7:45. Arrive at Midway Airport at 10:30, wait an hour for our shuttle to the Hyatt Regency downtown.

December 17: Wake up, eat breakfast in room. Try to brave the cold (25 degrees!), but Jen whimps out and we get a cab to the Sears Tower. Pretty cool, but would've been better at night. Then we walk around, and go eat lunch at Giordano's for some deep dish pizza. Yum! Took a while, but worth the wait. We walk around some more, visit our friend Brett who was in town for the Midwest Band Clinic, and go see his concert. Good stuff! We head back to the Hyatt for dinner at the Steakhouse (don't waste your time...), and go back to the Hilton for the Duncanville concert (I'll reserve comment, cause if you can't say anything nice...). We do some more walking, this time down Michigan Ave (S), and a little bit of shopping. Frolic in Millenium Park and the video wall pond, take pics, blah blah. Fun!

Dec 18: Wake, go to Art Institute, look at art, boring or not, eat in the cafeteria, and get our feet tired. Walk around some more, and go look for the flamingo statue. Found it, at the Post Office on Dearborn. Cool! Jen starts to feel sick, so we go to the movies (The Producers) on N. Michigan Ave. and then try to walk back to the Hyatt, but Jen is too flustered, so we stop at Water Tower Place, window shop, take some pics at the tower, and get a cab home. We're hungry, so I drop her off, and walk back to Michigan Ave to Chipotle for dinner. Yum.

Dec 19: Wake up at 6! I'm still mad at her for that. Eat breakfast in room (I love hotel breakfasts). Get on our shuttle and hop on an SWA flight at 9:25 am back to Hobby. Get to Houston, we're hungry, so we go to Freebird's. Yum. Go home. Chill.

Dec. 20: Veg out!

Dec 21: Go to Longview
Dec 24: Go to Austin to visit Dad's mom and family, then go visit my sister Sonya in San Antonio. She's getting better at hosting, and she's a great cook now! Got a honeybaked ham, wine, the works!

Dec 25: Wake at 8, do xmas with Jen, Sonya and her b/f John, and me. We then go to Cedar Creek for Xmas with Mom's side (my favorite thing all year), and celebrate grandpa's 95th birthday. Leave around 4 to head back to Longview. Arrive in Longview at 9:00, and do Xmas there with Jen's family, eat Wendy's for dinner.

Dec 26: Watch Harry Potter, kinda ok, a bit disappointed and bored, but I've never read the books. At 2 am, get a call from my oldest cousin Lillie telling me that Granda had a heart attack and is in the hospital.

Dec 27: We lose Grandpa, and I get all sorts of calls from family informing me. I decide to not go yet, since I wanted to remember Grandpa the last time I saw him, happy as can be on his birthday. We decide to go home to Lake Jackson, with Natalie in tow in the SUV, since she never comes to visit. We go to my friend Chris' house in Katy for beer and poker. Blew off steam.

Dec 28: Funeral will be on Friday, but Rosary on Thurs. We go to Sugar Land and go shopping for house stuff. Sounds cruel, doesn't it? Eat at Pei Wei b/c Natalie loves it. Go home and try to put curtain rods everywhere. One doesn't fit, so I go to Wal-Mart (God, I hate that place, on so many levels and for so many reasons) for another. Then another. Curtains up, cool. We go eat, then the girls veg in bed and I veg on the couch.

Dec 29: Head to Austin for Grandpa's funeral. Catch lunch in Houston on the way. Make it in time for the Rosary. Stay at our friends Mitzi and Steve's house (they're nice; but we only see them when someone dies). Eat with almost the whole family at a good Mexican restaurant that stayed open late for us.

Dec 30: Grandpa's funeral in Austin, then burial in Cedar Creek. I was a pall bearer, along with Lillie, Francis, Louis, Ray Anthony and Richard, all grandchildren. After that, we all went to the church in Rockne, had a big meal like Mexicans do, and then went to Leon's next door in memoriam of Grandpa. More on that another time. Head back home to Lake Jackson.

Dec 31: We're tired. Veg out a bit, then go to Mike and April's in Sugar Land for a great NYE party. We were just gonna play games and chill with wine and steak, but then everyone in the neighborhood decides to set off their own displays, and it's like the Chinese New Year out in Sugar Land! Awesome! Ghetto fireworks kick ass! We get drunk (well, maybe just me) and go to bed.

Jan 1: Wake up, eat brunch at Taco Cabana and go home. Veg and watch football and the Redskins win. Cowboys lose, knocking them out of the playoffs. Crap.

Jan 2: Wake up, veg, watch bowl games all day.

Jan 3: Jen's back at work, with only two real days at home for rest.

Now we're up to speed. And that's why I'm still tired.