So what happens to the town's water supply when the mayor goes bad? Apparently, it gets depleted at a discount price to finance the mayor's libido. Or at least that's what happened in Waldron, Arkansas.
It's not quite sex for water, but it's close enough...
A good number of people were curious as to why they couldn't get ahold of me this past weekend. As some of you know (and most others will now remember), Anna and I have been married 1 whole year as of the 8th (that's pretty crazy.) As such, and because Monday was a school day and we spent the previous weekend with our friends, we decided (or rather, I told Anna to reserve the weekend) to do something fun for the weekend.
Now, as many know, I am given to plotting and sneakery. So I did a bit of working my local contacts and found a very cool little Bed and Breakfast in Pittsburg, TX (an smallish East Texas town less than an hour from Longview.) The Carson House Inn and Grille got me in at a rather late notice (some other plans that I had attempted fell through), got me a nice room (albeit one with entirely too much exposure to the morning sun), and provided an excellent dinner and two wonderful breakfasts.
Anna was uninformed where we would be going, much to her disapproval (she is something of a control freak in situations where she has been left in the dark.) I had arranged for the Wheelers to meet us at the Carson House for dinner, a tricky affair since neither Jared nor I had incredibly sure directions for how to get there from his remote honeymoon location. That said, things went off extraordinarily well, and each of us made it there within 2-3 minutes of the other, with a minimum of wrong turns.
Dinner was excellent (I've said that already, but it bears repeating) and the chicken crepes were absolutely amazing. I think I might want to go back just for the chicken crepes. Dessert was also rather impressive, and it was an altogether enjoyable dining experience. Who knew that you could find such good food in such a remote place? Dinner conversation was remarkable and probably should have been recorded... but quotations will be withheld to protect the innocent, and to provide a paper shield for myself.
After dinner, the Wheelers wandered off and Anna and I went up to explore our room. It was quite cool... decorated with period furniture and yet comfortable and not feeling like I should be fearing for my financial future (as I often do in antique and china shops.) One last point of note on sleeping in Pittsburg: it is a train hub of East Texas, and at least one set of tracks runs within 50 yards of the Inn. As you can imagine, this led to some consternation from Anna... though I can't say I minded. Then again, I can sleep through anything.
The following day heralded a tour of the surrounding towns and a visit to a winery. The tour of the local towns was instructive, but not altogether enticing. The fact of the matter is that old towns in East Texas are largely similar and begin to run together after a point. That said, there was a noteworthy "Exotic Animals Veterinary Clinic" along the route which housed zebras and giraffes and gazelles and what-have-you. Beyond that, we mostly just made fun of the Ugliest Baptist Church in the World (First Baptist Church of Mt. Pleasant, TX.) Pictures are forthcoming... but suffice it to say that two pieces of rebar should not be welded together and affixed to an incinerator stack and then decorated with christmas lights in an attempt to make a steeple. It just shouldn't be done.
Following our tour was a stop at Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, of KZQX fame. It should be noted that Anna and I are turning into oenophiles (albeit poor ones) and that most vacations cannot be considered complete without at least a purchase of a bottle of wine, if not a visit to a winery, a taste testing, and a purchase of multiple bottles of wine. While we didn't actually get the full tour of Los Pinos (it was a bottling day), we did get to experience the unique feel of the young and expanding winery and taste most of their wines (they were sold out of one rather enticing white.) After a rather fine lunch, and the purchase of 5 or 6 bottles (and some rather cool shirts), we took ourselves back into town. At this point, I began reading through my guide to the Pittsburgh area and noted that there was a replica of the Ezekiel Airship in one of the local museums.
No, not an inventor named Ezekiel, but an itinerant Baptist preacher named Rev. Burrell Cannon. The man might have been a nut, but the airship is said to have worked... and it was well worth the $4 cost of entry to the museum to see the airship and the exhibit. Now, the rest of the museum about the town, the railroads, and the poultry industry... these things really didn't appeal. But crazy Baptists and flying machines? Count me in.
After this, we visited the local "actual farmhouse" museum. Can't say as they appeal, but there are sure a lot of them, so somebody must like the things. Outside of this line from the tour guide, I would count the tour a loss: "Oh yeah... they had running water back then. 'Here child, run and fetch some water!'"
And, true to form, Anna and I rounded out the afternoon finding a Hasting's to read at (and spend ourselves into the poorhouse at), and then went to go see MI:3 (better than 2, maybe better than 1.) We capped the evening off with dinner at Braum's and then a trek back to the Carson House. In spite of my best efforts, Anna decided that we would arise at 8 in the morning so that we could make it to church in Longview (instead of arising at 10, as I suggested, and attending church down the street.) And so, our mini-vacation came to an end with us being early to church. Go figure.
I had soy cheese once... and it was foul. Apparently, I'm not the only one who hates the stuff.
"Crap"... yes, that's a good word to describe the stuff. And a family-friendly word too, unlike most of the words I would use for it.
Is it bad that I really want the ringtone described here and only because it would offend people? Sadly, the tone seems to have disappeared and by all accounts, was downloaded less than a dozen times. Looks like I'll have to get another "blatantly offensive" ring tone instead.
So, at some point in the middle of the Great Weekend of Chaos Mark II (Mark I, having been occasioned by my own wedding), Anna and I saw fit to attend graduation. Plans were made to meet people before graduation and meet with the graduates afterwards and we felt generally good about ourselves and our planning foresight... and then it rained.
To those of you not familiar with graduation at LeTourneau, it is an outdoor extravaganza the like of which could not be replicated indoors... especially due to the estimated annual attendance of 4,000 graduates, professors, family members, friends, students and alumni which no building on campus could hold. But, the show must go on, and so it did. Solheim Arena was chosen as the new venue for graduation, being as that it is one of the largest indoor venues on campus and is adjacent to the Belcher Auditorium, which is nearly as large.
Anna and I showed up at roughly 9:20 and weaseled our way to a much nicer parking lot than was being used for the typical alumnus (we do know our way around campus) and then found our way into Solheim. After a bit of confusion, we found seats next to Rachel Wheeler (that does sound odd) and Daniel Leatherwood, and there we stayed... for a bit. At around 9:40 or so, it was announced that Solheim appeared filled to capacity and that everyone should take his seat so that if the room was not already at capacity, it could be filled to such. Scarcely a minute later, all students, alumni, and all people who weren't an immediate family member of a graduate (or a grandparent) were asked to relocate to the Belcher Auditorium for overflow purposes.
As an aside: anyone who knows me knows that I am not really about to be told to go give up my hard-earned seat to some twit who showed up late and lacked the foresight which my friends and I posessed. That said, I am not without sympathy... and when my wife rather pointedly tells me that she's not about to be the reason that some parent doesn't get to see his or her child graduate in person, I'm not so cold and callous (or stupid) as to contribute to ruining some parent's day (or to land myself in the dog house) by refusing to budge.
So after an intense internal struggle, some pointed interjection by my wife, and Leatherwood making his own exit, Anna and I made our exodus from the Solheim Arena and into the hall leading to Belcher Gym. The hallway had filled to capacity in the intervening period since we'd left it and we progressed at a crawl towards the gym, all the while being packed in from behind by a sea of likewise-disgruntled humanity. Roughly half-way down the hall, we were joined by faculty and staff who weren't directly involved in the graduation process and had volunteered to sacrifice their own seats for family members... which is kind of depressing when you realize that some of these faculty and staff are part of the only family that many students have for four or five years, but I digress.
As we neared the door to Belcher Gym, the line ground to a halt, and it was at this point that a revelation which had been nibbling at the edges of my mind came to the fore... the graduates sit in Belcher before they go out to the graduation ceremony. So the graduates would have to fight through the sea of humanity to get out of Belcher, would be generally unable to leave their posessions behind, and would carrying their posessions with them outside and around the building, due to being unable to fight down the hallway from whence the bulk of the attendees were coming. It was a generally disheartening thought, and one at which my wife arrived at about the same time.
Waiting at a stand-still in the gridlock, looking forward to watching graduation on a live feed (a black-and-white live feed operated by an absent-minded camera-man), Anna and I asked each other if breakfast wouldn't be far superior to the experience that awaited us. A moment of discussion mostly centered around how in the blazes we would get out, looking back over the glutted halls surrounding us. However, Anna's gaze alighted on the doors to the dressing rooms, and she informed me that she knew of a back exit. That settled, we left, promising to return for the post-graduation festivities.
The remainder of what followed will be chronicled elsewhere, except to say that we were vastly unimpressed with what happens at graduation when it rains. There has to be a better solution out there, and someone really ought to find it.
Last night at the rehearsal dinner, I had a chance to share some musings about our favorite Guatemalan... but I cut my remembrances short both out of respect for time and out of respect for his dignity. I will be paying little respect to either of those categories insofar as this posting is concerned.
I met Jared when I began encountering and attempting to indoctrinate the Second Cohort... but I really didn't begin speaking with him at any length until his sophomore year, principally because he was quiet, frequently in a hurry (because he was due somewhere else five minutes ago), and rarely left his room. I saw him from time to time, and knew enough of where his room was to crash it and trouble him and Durkin (who seemed rather alarmed at the intrusion)... but that was more or less it. In our defenses, he had a good roommate and wasn't feeling like chancing the burning glare of the daystar, and I was increasingly interested with other distractions.
Jared's sophomore year, however, (and my Junior year) heralded the formation of the SC Blogs Proper, my taking classes with Jared, and Jared spending a decent bit of time out of his room. It was at this point that I also found the joy of sitting next to Jared in chapel because he always had an interesting spare book or three. Oh... and an interesting tidbit... a 150 pound guy with a 50 pound backpack spins like a top when you seize his backpack and shove it to one side or the other. Ah... I miss that backpack. Another point of note is that Jared was the LeTourneau student "Most Likely to be Found in the Library" through most of his time at LeTourneau. I'm positive that he holds the record for most hours asleep in the library by sheer force of the fact that he did a good half of his sleeping there for most of his sophomore year. I almost forgot "Mosh the Guatemalan"... a favorite game of Gallagher's and mine. Not so sure of Jared's undying appreciation for the game, however.
And then we roomed together for the summer. Jared has a lot of crap... which I found out the hard way when we moved it... a lot of heavy crap (It's still not as bad as Moore's freaking couch though... damn your couch Moore... you suck.) That said, silly Guatemalan... you should never room with someone whose voracious taste for books, trouble and movies is only surpassed by your own. To say that we slacked hard is probably a gross understatement of the term. We might could have slacked harder, but it would have gotten us fired... and we weren't eligible for welfare. So I had to wake Wheeler up at the crack of dawn... and 5 minutes later, and then drag him out of bed so that we could stumble across campus to work and not be late. Not that our boss really minded, but it was the principle of the thing. Except for those two weeks where we scraped glue. We should have probably quit then on principle.
But we lived like kings, Wheeler and I. We read all day, except when we watched movies all day, and then watched movies every night. We probably drove Ardith and Anna insane... but we had a hell of a time doing it. And then the rest of the crew came back... and the work-load increased a bit, but the fun of watching the good movies also increased. Oh... and we saran-wrapped Paige's car... that was fun too. At some point, I also got engaged and married... and Wheeler was there to help out with that as well. A fine groomsman, if I do say so myself.
And this year, I've gotten to see him a lot less than I would like. Part of it is my having a job, and part of it is him spending lots of time with Rachel and my not living right by them. I suppose that's the way it is with the Real World... it's not like college. Which more or less sucks, if you like being near your friends most of the time as opposed to across town from them and too busy to spend lots of time having fun with them. To Jared's discredit, he couldn't remember to ask a grocer for food if he was dying of starvation... but we'll try not to hold his complete inability to communicate important information against him... too much.
I could go on and tell stories about Wheeler for hours... and I probably will. But this post probably should come to a close, and the close is this: I'm going to miss my damn Guatemalan... who has been there for me as a great friend for several wonderful years. I mean, now he's going to be Rachel's damn Guatemalan... and she'll probably even make him change his name to Rachel's respectable Guatemalan. And who wants that?
But I wish them both the best... and looking back, I think I've managed to withhold most of Wheeler's embarassing stories. You're welcome Gauatemala.