How to Eat a Mango

I was having a discussion over on Facebook about the complexity of mangoes. I get the distinct feeling I’m doing it wrong.

My mango-eating kit includes a damp cloth, dry towel, paper towels and dental floss.

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Evidently, not everyone goes through such a production when eating a mango. Here’s a step-by-step process I found online:

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And here’s my much easier process:

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I like my way better.

 

What Nightmares Are Made Of

A while back, Tolly Moseley sent out a tweet that really hit home: Screen shot 2014-12-23 at 3.58.07 PM

18062014-01Few things are more horrifying than the thought of someone going through my search history. Nobody needs to know of my morbid fascination with people who hide bodies in their homes.

Like many humans in the digital age, I spend a lot of time online—usually looking for answers to questions I wouldn’t have bothered asking before the internet was invented. It’s not that I didn’t have questions in the past; I just wouldn’t have cared enough to go searching for answers.

How to Squander Your Life Away in One Easy Step:

Here are a few examples from my search history to illustrate just how thoroughly I’ve wasted my time on this planet so far. In order to keep my blog PG-13, these examples are more uninspired than horrifying, but they serve to reflect the sad state of affairs inside my mind.

card-catalog-03Finding answers used to be hard. Really hard. You had to know somebody, maybe make a few phone calls or (god forbid) go to the library. What would happen if rather than reaching for my phone or iPad to look something up, I paused to ask myself if I would bother researching this topic if I had to do so the old fashioned way. If I were to stop using my laptop as a Magic 8 Ball, I’d estimate a productivity increase of approximately 40,000 percent.

So what does this mean for the big picture? It means that over the past 12 months alone, I could have written a couple of books, produced daily content for all of my blogs, read several dozen novels, learned Japanese, exercised, cleaned my house and earned a degree in astrophysics.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for less technology—that would be crazy. Technology is today’s key to discovery, and I like to consider myself the Nikola Tesla of useless knowledge. That being the case, if the technology for instant gratification didn’t exist, would I really take the time to research urban sinkholes and narwhal mating habits?

You bet your ass I would.

 

Can’t You Hear the Whistle Blowing

bill-old-houseIn 1998 I moved into a questionable neighborhood to shack up with an equally questionable guy, in a house almost as shady as the street it sat on. Yet despite its beach towel curtains and unidentifiable odor, Squalor Manor had potential (and as it turned out, so did the guy).

One thing I forgot to consider before moving in with my future husband was the level of noise inherent to city living. Rush hour traffic, sirens and a neighborhood rooster, along with the creaks and groans of a 75-year-old house, created the urban equivalent of a Philip Glass marathon—and much like Philip Glass, it was unbearable. I was relieved when the racket finally began fading into the background, and the only sound left to break up the static was a train’s whistle.

Fast forward a few years, and our neighborhood has grown so hip, even the property taxes are ironic. Our streets are virtually hooker-free, and the coffeehouse to porn-shop ratio has begun to even out. These days, people pay alarming sums of money to live down by the tracks.

train_trackThere’s a railroad crossing less than a quarter mile from our house. It can be a minor inconvenience during day, but at night the distant sound of approaching trains is comforting. Each time a whistle blows, my husband or I will ask, “Where should we go tonight?” Sometimes it’s New Mexico or Colorado; other nights we take the long haul up through western Canada to Alaska. It’s a silly little tradition, but it is precisely this type of thing that makes a relationship special. Because let’s face it—lying next to a middle aged man with a Breathe Right Strip across his nose isn’t what they promised in the bridal magazines.

train1I recently learned of Austin’s Railroad Quiet Zones project. Train engineers are no longer required to sound their whistles in a new zone which includes three nearby railroad crossings. At the risk of sounding like a fist-shaking grandma, I have to question a person who moves into a house by the railroad tracks and then calls the city to complain that trains are noisy. I feel Darwin owes me an explanation.

Gene pools aside, this isn’t about gentrification or city policy—nor is it about an old house in an old neighborhood with new neighbors. It’s about imaginary adventures on imaginary trains and building new traditions while learning to live on the quiet side of the tracks.

Something to Sneeze At

It is a cruel irony that the most beautiful days in Austin are some of its most unforgiving. Pollen, mold, ragweed—pretty much all of nature—says “Hi there—I am here in all my glory to give you this beautiful day…” and then, BAM! It knocks you on your ass, and you’re done.

Austinites discuss the allergy forecast like sports scores, and arguably the most despised team in the league is cedar pollen. Nicknamed “Cedar Fever,” the only difference between it and the flu is that Cedar Fever lasts much, much longer.

If you are new to the area, I’ve put together a handy little graphic to assist with diagnosis. Hope it helps!

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The Not-So-Glamorous Life

PrintToday I spent 16 hours designing two pages of a 32-page brochure. I wouldn’t say this is normal, but it’s not a first. If I had the energy, I’d be embarrassed or depressed, but who’s got the time? The life of a small business owner isn’t glamorous, and it isn’t always fun. So what drives me to keep doing this day after day, year after year? My good pal, Emily Leach​, founder of the Texas Freelance Association​, would say it’s because I’m “genetically unemployable.” I say it’s because I’m unable to wear a bra for more than five hours in a row. Either way, I’m going to get up in four hours to start this shit all over again. Because that’s what we do.

Independent Study

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R.I.P.

As much as I joke about my lack of kitchen skills, I rarely make a truly inedible meal. There was the time I forgot to put noodles in a lasagna, and my recipe for “barf tuna” is legendary, but most of the time my cooking doesn’t repulse. That said, a giant pot of putrefaction has recently taken up residence in the garbage can under my kitchen sink.

Every meal is an opportunity for learning (and, as it turns out, grease fires). Here’s what I learned today:

  1. If a recipe doesn’t specifically call for soy sauce, there’s probably no reason to include it.
  2. Silken tofu and firm tofu are not interchangeable.
  3. Corn starch isn’t as harmless as it looks. (On the plus side, I now know how to make glue.)
  4. Domesticated animals exiting the kitchen while you’re cooking is the international sign for “Please find a takeout menu.”
  5. Rice noodles ≠ spaghetti
  6. If you think it might be a mistake, it is probably a mistake.

And my final lesson of the evening: A cast iron pan is no match for a bad cook with unshakeable optimism.

Ladies Love Cool James

**** UPDATE: 10/15/14 ****

So this morning before I had my coffee I checked Twitter to make sure LL Cool J was still following me. Not only is he still following me; he also followed three new people, including Snoop Dogg. Using transitive property (and other words I don’t understand), one can conclude that LL COOL J LIKES ME MORE THAN SNOOP DOGG.

LL > Weenie > Snoop

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**** ORIGINAL STORY: 10/14/14 ****

For those who haven’t heard, I had a big day on Twitter. The one and only LL Cool J followed me. No, I am not kidding, and yes, I am going to be obnoxious about it. So here’s how it all went down.

Screen shot 2014-10-15 at 11.02.27 AMScreen shot 2014-10-14 at 11.05.05 PM

At first I was like…

Screen shot 2014-10-14 at 10.14.58 PM

And then I was like…

Screen shot 2014-10-14 at 10.15.49 PM

Do the math, bitches!

LL-Cool_J_twitterScreen shot 2014-10-14 at 10.14.09 PMScreen shot 2014-10-14 at 10.08.08 PM

Screen shot 2014-10-14 at 6.17.07 PM

 

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10 Ways to Tell “Weather” or Not You’re in Texas

Yippee-ki-yay Here in Central Texas, we’re in the middle of what some would call a mild summer. Today we’re only expected to hit 95°, and while not what I’d call “invigorating,” it’s a relief just to be able to walk from the car to the house without stopping at the halfway point to hydrate.

One thing that distinguishes a Texas summer is its endlessness. That being said, Texans are a tough breed, so until the number of days with triple digit temperatures exceeds a person’s age, you probably won’t hear many complaints. Should you have the great misfortune of finding yourself within our borders between the months of March and November, refer to the list below for help understanding our ways. Best of luck, brave traveler.

Them vs Us:

  1. In some places, houseplants are moved outside on a sunny afternoon to help them grow. In Texas, houseplants are moved outside on a sunny afternoon to put them out of their misery faster.
  2. weather-reportIn some places, a 30% chance of rain means there’s a 30% chance it will rain and a 70% chance it won’t rain. In Texas, a 30% chance of rain means local meteorologists are bored with their graphics.
  3. In some places, a cold front means the temperature is expected to drop more than 15°. In Texas, a cold front means you can safely walk outdoors.
  4. In some places, people wear hats and scarves because they’re going outside. In Texas, people wear hats and scarves because they’re going on vacation.
  5. In some places, people who park outside have to dig their cars out of the snow. In Texas, people who park outside are totally screwed.
  6. In some places, dog owners put booties on their pooches to protect their paws from ice and snow. In Texas, dog owners put booties on their pooches to protect their paws from third degree burns.
  7. In some places, a summertime hike is followed by swimming and a picnic. In Texas, a summertime hike is followed by severe sun poisoning and a trip to the ER.
  8. In some places, people live without air conditioning in their homes. In Texas, people die without air conditioning in their homes.
  9. In some places, a pile of coats and hats signals the beginning of winter. In Texas, a pile of coats and hats signals a garage sale.
  10. In some places, the appearance of ice indicates it’s dangerous to drive. In Texas, the appearance of ice indicates it’s time for margaritas.

Cheers, y’all!

San Antonio’s Latest Jewel: Carnival Ride Minus the Nausea

texas-historical-figuresThe Weenies went to San Antonio yesterday for some work and a visit with Mama Weenie. The highlight of the day was after the sun went down and we headed over to the San Fernando Cathedral to see the city’s new multimedia production, “San Antonio | The Saga,” by French artist, Xavier de Richemont.

Using projection mapping technology, Richemont was able to display video against the cathedral’s massive façade. The result was a 24-minute slice of art porn well worth the hour-long drive from Austin. Even impossible-to-impress Mr. Weenie gave it the thumbs up (although Dexter and Harry were unimpressed). I could go on, but there are plenty of photos and articles out there. Instead, I’ve posted the video below. It’s long, but take just 60 seconds to scroll through. You will see something really cool no matter where you pause along the timeline.

Better yet, skip the video altogether and visit the cathedral in person. You simply cannot get a sense of the immensity of the piece from a computer screen. Oh—and be sure to bring the kids (assuming you can get them to put down their electronic devices). It’s engaging enough for even the most cynical junior critic.

My only criticism would be of the cruel irony in the soundtrack’s opening seconds. Beginning the composition with a loud clap of thunder and the pitter patter of rain in a drought-stricken community is just rude, dude. Imagine living in that neighborhood—”OMG, is that thunder??!! Aww, crap. Stupid art.”

Speaking of stupid, if your dog is afraid of thunder like Dexter is, keep a tight hold on the leash. It only lasts a few seconds, but when you’re a tiny poodle with a brain the size of a pecan, it can be a bit traumatic.

Here’s a short feature about the piece from San Antonio’s Fox News affiliate:

And here it is in its entirety:

Be sure to check the schedule before driving all the way down there. The video projection plays three times a night (9:00, 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays). It has been purchased by the city of San Antonio for 10 years, after which time, I assume the terms will be re-negotiated. Surely you can fit that into your schedule.

The Travelin’ Weenies: On the Road Again

Several years ago, I unplugged from social media during a trip to Colorado and wrote a 13-part series on my blog. As I prepare to leave for a trip up the California coast, I’m trying to decide if I want to report from the road on social media or unplug and write longer blog posts to be published as a series upon my return.

In case you’re curious but don’t want to commit to the entire oeuvre, here’s a sentence or two from each post:

Part 1: The Colorado Experiment – In order to prevent a pall from forming over our vacation as only an unintentionally euthanized pet can do, it was decided that I would take the Xanax and Dexter would monitor the drink cart.

Part 2: The Comfort of Crap – Thus was I forced to endure the withering stares of the holier-than-thou light-packer set as I moved two sweatshirts and a toiletry kit the size of a small raft into Mr. Weenie’s bag.

Sasquach

Part 3: Weenie in Her Full, Upright and Locked Position – What child picked its nose and wiped it on my arm rest? Who is that coughing up a lung in the exit row? How many heads have rested on this miniature dust mite farm some call a pillow?

Part 4: And They’re Off – Take note, all you pet-loving travelers: Do not attempt to toss a dog dish full of water out the window of a car going 65 miles per hour.

Part 5: Down in The Valley – Having paid for the experience, we decided to take full advantage of all the park had to offer, which as it turned out, included a terror ride to the bottom of the gorge in a small metal cage.

Part 6: Lost in Condo City – While these asshole harbingers of doom mocked us from above—all the while hoping my small, leashed, rodent-like companion would make a break for it—I spotted a figure walking toward us.

Part 7: Man Does Not Live by Cookies Alone – Other food-related hiccups during our vacation included an in-flight salsa explosion, the unfortunate altitude-meets-yogurt episode, a coffee-on-Nikon/poodle moment, and the great Rocky Mountain scrambled egg incident.

Part 8: Mountain Mama – We climbed up ridges to gorgeous waterfalls, while resident fecal expert, Bill Haddad, kept us apprised of the bowel habits of Colorado’s diverse woodland creatures.

Doggie YogaPart 9: Why Poodles and Spas Don’t Mix – There were very few things we missed along the way due to poodle intolerance—we even managed to slip him into a few restaurants here and there—but sneaking him into a spa seemed a bit optimistic.

Part 10: On the Road Again – Have you ever tried outrunning the rotation of the earth? Not as easy as Superman made it appear, but sort of fun in a Lucy and Ethel kind of way.

Part 11: Vail - Coming back to Vail after so long was like going to someone else’s high school reunion; I didn’t know anyone and spent a lot of time trying to find a restroom.

Part 12: Rocky Mountain Hell – We’ve given thought to climbing onto the roof to try and get service, but who would take care of Dexter if we died in a tragic internet accident?

Epilogue – As I sprawl out on the kitchen floor, waiting for the house to cool down, it occurs to me that other than my husband and a 12-year-old boy panning for gold, I haven’t spoken to another human being in over two weeks.

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Now to decide what to do during my trip (other than enjoy it). Maybe I don’t need to report every detail, but it makes traveling more fun. And the bonus is afterward I’ll have a nice memory journal to look back on. What would you do?*

*Let’s pretend “both” is not an option.