Annual Decision

It’s my birthday today. This is the one day of the year when if I pick a movie that John doesn’t want to see he promises to come with me without a groan. I’ve narrowed my choices down to two — unfortunately, though, I think he’d like both of them so this is really going to be a wasted birthday. It’s going to be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or The Ladykillers. Both start at The Angelika in less than an hour, so I don’t have long to make up my mind.

At least no one's been killed . . . yet

Don't forgive them, Lord, for I think they know what they're doing.It’s been nearly three months since our New Year’s Day ride on the brand new shiny Downtown train. Unfortunately, things haven’t been working out too well, mainly because people around here just don’t know how to read road signs. Kevin, anti-light rail from the very beginning, has been keeping tabs on the number of accidents, and if he wasn’t so funny I would box his ears every time I saw him. Don’t you hate it when people are right? The fact that people keep on driving into the brand new shiny trains does, of course, mean that the project is currently a failure. I can’t imagine that the number of accidents will go down until a more stringent driving test is introduced in Texas. Not once have I read about an accident where the train driver was at fault. With the exception of cases such as the man in the wheelchair yesterday, a deaf person a week ago, and someone who blatantly ignored the crossing gates, the majority of accidents have been caused by drivers making illegal left turns. And whether those illegal left turns were accidents is debatable. When I was walking across Main at Preston last week I saw a man look furtively in his mirrors and turn around to check for trains before he made his illegal left turn.

Meanwhile, Metro works on making bigger signs, noisier whistles, and traffic lights that stay red longer. Remind me to give a new report at the end of the second quarter.



Mini convertibleMy online fantasy Baseball friend in Toronto, Mikey, sent me this picture. He likes Minis, Baseball, and cats. Can’t get much better than that, eh?

As for the Mini convertible — although I haven’t seen or squeezed one yet, I don’t think it’ll be on my shopping list. It just doesn’t look right, and Wendy is so perfect. Tell you what, though, Mikey — when I finally make it to Toronto we shall rent one and drive it to the Skydome.

It's like . . . very, VERY irritating

from The Times, March 24th, 2004As a follow-up to my last bitching session, Ricky e-mailed me an article from today’s Times, advising that, at the end of the day, he has issues with many of these phrases.

I do too. Haven’t heard of “blue sky thinking,” though. I also have issues with the fact that Ricky is able to see this article from his computer in the UK whereas the Times wants me to pay a minimum of £3.99 to view it. So…cut and paste, here we go…

Is this the most irritating paragraph you will ever read?
By Robin Young

THERE! Within a single paragraph, you have the ten most annoying phrases in the English language, grouped together for your displeasure. To add to your irritation, I have even lobbed in a couple of also-rans for good measure.

The dread phrases, which in every other circumstance Times writers would strive to avoid, are identified by the Plain English Campaign, which has struggled for a quarter of a century against a tide of gobbledygook, hackneyed phraseology, impenetrable jargon and clangorous clichés.

The campaign celebrated its anniversary yesterday by firing a well-worded broadside at expressions so overworked that they are now supine with exhaustion, robbed of every last vestige of meaning.

As well as the Top Ten linguistic irritants, the campaign also noted some word forms now deemed past their sell-by date and overdue for retirement. These include such passing favourites as “Between a rock and a hard place” and “It’s not rocket science.”

John Lister, a campaign spokesman, said: “These phrases are used so often they are used without thinking. When first used they may have served a purpose as a fresh way of describing something, but when they are used over and over again for the wrong reasons, they lose all meaning.” Mr Lister’s pet hate was “to be honest”. “It means that the next thing that will come out of the speaker’s lips will not be honest.”

There is still hope. When the Plain English Campaign was launched, spoken English was struggling with the “situation syndrome”, in which everything was in a something-or-other “situation”.

That has, thankfully, subsided (spot the misuse?) as has the habit of speaking of everything as being “in connection with” something else. But what has happened to “who” and to “which”? Both appear to have been almost entirely replaced by the impersonal, flat and boring “that”. Even Mr Lister is at it. Did you notice?

Last Chance to Fill the Dumpster

Our dumpster‘s being picked up tomorrow. It’s been raining here and I’m wondering if the truck will get stuck in the driveway again.

Once it’s gone we’ll be surveying the damage and making a decision on what to do with the driveway. I can’t get Wendy down there without scraping her bottom (gosh, that sounds bad!) so we’re going to have to get it repaired.

If you’re a driveway specialist or know a driveway specialist, come by and give us a quote. We’re considering gravel, concrete, tarmac — whatever.

Bikram Century

I have just completed my 100th Bikram Yoga class at Yoga Body Houston. It has also been exactly a year since I went to my first one, so I guess I can preach a little to all you people out there with bad backs. It works!

Bikram Yoga is done in a hot room (up to 105 degrees). It lasts for 90 minutes and the poses are the same every class. The instructor talks the entire class, demonstrating a pose occasionally, but usually you don’t have to look at her/him at all. Everyone works at their own pace. Having had two discs removed from my lower back and also having had a car accident a year later, I’ve had to be very careful, and do specially modified poses to replace all the poses that involve curling the spine forward (there are five of these during the routine). The owner told me that with my history I should never curl my spine forward again — there are so many times in the day, starting with brushing your teeth, when you curl forwards. It’s bad for you! On a side note, I gave my golf clubs away two weeks ago. Hadn’t used them for three years and they were going mouldy in the shed.

There are some poses that I still haven’t mastered. For instance, Fixed Firm. But I’m nearly there! The other one is Camel. This pose makes me nauseous fifty percent of the time. As soon as I start going backwards I just want to throw up. We’re told that this is good for us! When I do the camel successfully you’ll be reading about it here.

Okay, so it’s only been a year. Maybe it’s a fad. But right now I can’t emphasize enough to all you bad back people how great Bikram Yoga’s been for me. Find out if there’s anywhere near you that offers the classes and try it out!

UPDATE, April 4th, 2006: Since writing the above, things have changed. Yogabody Houston went out of business a couple of weeks later. I arrived one morning for the 6:00 class and the doors were locked. It was quite traumatic. Fortunately there was another place in Houston that offered Bikram, and I started there the next morning. As soon as I started doing the modified poses, the instructor stopped me and told me to attempt each pose to the best of my ability. From that day I began curling my spine forwards. Today it feels perfectly healthy. It bends backwards, forwards, sideways, left, right . . . YEAH!

Resident Geek

Step back and adjust your shades before clicking on thisI’ve just been checking out the pictures on the camera and found this one that John took of his new motherboard. He installed it on Thursday night (with only a few hitches) and is as happy as a clam. I did ask him how fast it was and how it would improve his quality of life, and got a 90-minute answer. In a nutshell, however, it is one step away from the best!

I must say, it’s a fascinating picture. I could look at it for hours. And that is why I’m sharing it with all Habershons, lurkers, and Callie.

Civic Duty

Loyal readers may remember my writing about my route home from yoga. To refresh your memories, this is one of the fields I cross. I rarely see anyone when I go to the 6 a.m. classes, but yesterday on my way home I saw two men walking in my direction. They changed their course and headed into the garage. I thought nothing of it until later in the day I heard that two prisoners had escaped from the Harris County Jail. I found their pictures online and was 90 percent certain it was them, so called the Sheriff’s office and told them the location. Whether my information helped with their capture I don’t know, but it was exciting!