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Wine whine

July 22nd, 2008 by jomo

An oenophile I am not, but neither am I a wino, although my spouse would be happy to argue with me about the latter claim. When I pointed out to her that laboratory experiments suggested that four 5-ounce glasses of red wine daily were found to be beneficial, she snorted. Of course 20 ounces of wine is quite a bit…with the bar that high, I have a way to go.

My wine of choice for years has been St. Genevieve’s Merlot. Tasty, cheap, and made in West Texas. Sometimes, in a snobbish mood, I buy the Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. I say “has been” because I found that the price of the whole St. Genevieve’s line has inflated at my local wine merchant, HEB Supermarket.

So I have moved for economy from the varietal to the blend, and St. Genevieve’s has made it easier for me to do so…they now have two blended red offerings: Red and Sweet Red. Obviously, Sweet Red is for women and punch bowls. Red is for me.

They previously had a blend called Texas Red, but it was strictly for winos, I’m sure.

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Grand Canyon Misadventure

July 11th, 2008 by jomo

We went with some friends to the Bob Bullock Texas History
Museum to see the 3D Grand Canyon film. All found it to be, aside from the novelty of 3D, a great disappointment.

A major criticism was the superficiality of the film. Many topics were introduced, but none were explored in any depth: it seemed as if the object was to mention in passing as many things as possible within the time limit of the production (which happened to be that of an hour-long TV program with commercial breaks).

As far as 3Dness is concerned, the effect was most exploited in the titles, which were computer graphics anyway. There were shots made in running extreme rapids with great standing waves that were very effective, but I felt that the 3D illusion was icing on the IMax cake.

For films about the Grand Canyon, my favorite is The Same River Twice. Thus spake the curmudgeon.

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eBooks and stuff

July 9th, 2008 by jomo

We brothers-in-law received for Xmas from our mother-in-law in common, Sony Readers. I didn’t pay much attention to mine for several months, but recently I have started using it quite a bit. Now I find that what bugs me is the non-compatible proprietary formats for eBooks. Market share seems to me to be the issue driving the variety, but at least Microsoft Reader is free software running under Windows – the others require investment in additional hardware. But both the Sony Reader and MS Reader accept other file formats, like .txt, .rtf, .pdf, .doc and .html, more or less successfully, so a multitude of material is available on the web. We recently watched the Cranford Series on Masterpiece Theater, and I subsequently found Mrs. Gaskell’s novels at Project Gutenberg in .txt format. Very enjoyable.

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A Trevanian Tale

July 6th, 2008 by jomo

Before Trevanian, the writer, became thusly known, I knew him as Rod Whitaker and he taught film production at the University of Texas in Austin, where I was one of his graduate TAs. One day he, and I and another TA went to lunch at a barbeque joint housed in a tarpaper and plywood shack on the south end of the Weigl Brothers Iron Works down on Red River, known appropriately as The Shanty.

Inside, we placed our orders. Rod had either already eaten, or had decided that he didn’t care to eat whatever The Shanty was serving, so he ordered only coffee. The service person put utensils and stuff on the counter for us to take to our picnic bench table – one of the things was a coffee cup full of barbeque sauce. We were talking about a project, and we took our stuff, still talking, and Rod took the coffee cup. We continued to talk as we seated ourselves, and I was watching Rod as he started to put cream into his “coffee.” When he looked down, teaspoon poised, into the greasy barbeque sauce, a look crossed his face which told me that his direst suspicions about The Shanty’s fare had been confirmed. Rod was a cool customer, and he said nothing about the appearance of his coffee, rather just pushed the cup aside, returning to the conversation. After Richard and I got our orders, with a certain amount of devilish glee, I asked Rod to pass me the barbeque sauce.

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Austin’s fireworks

July 5th, 2008 by jomo

The City of Austin’s 4th of July fireworks display moved back to Auditorium Shores this year. We walked down and enjoyed it quite a bit. In years past, it was tight quarters down there, but with the Coliseum and some city office buildings, with their attendant parking lots, gone, replaced by Town Lake Park, there was plenty of room for the huge crowd. The weather has relented a bit from the Devil’s forge heat of June, so the temperature was in the rafters of the comfort zone. The fireworks were splendid – I’ve never seen better – and the Austin Symphony hammered away in fine martial accompaniment. My compliments to all involved.

Were I to make any suggestion, it would be that a different arrangement of the sound system might make the music more audible.

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Dell tech support

July 4th, 2008 by jomo

UT replaced my wife’s laptop, and she asked me to get it onto our home wireless network. Things didn’t go smoothly, so I ended up calling Dell. I was connected with Diana, who was very pleasant, working on July 4th, while her husband was at home caring for the 16-month-old son, and the 8-week-old daughter. Perhaps one isn’t supposed to engage in conversation on these support calls, but shutting down and re-starting computers leads to what would otherwise be long periods of dead air, right? She helped me try a bunch of different things, all to no avail, and then my phone started to die. She tried to give me her extension to call back on another phone, but I only got 3 numbers before she was gone.

So I want to tell her that the failure to connect was my fault all along. I had messed up the access settings on the router. She was very helpful and I appreciated her assistance. I tried to leave a message for her to that effect on the Dell website, but there were so many hoops to jump through that I finally quit trying and settled for doing it this way. I know that she will very probably never see this, but Diana – thanks.

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July 3rd, 2008 by jomo

My wife had breakfast with a friend who has been working on the new Terence Malick film down in Smithville, and it made me think of other films of his. A scene from The New World I remember gave me goosebumps. As the Europeans sail into the bay, we watch from among and behind the amazed and excited natives on the forested shore. The score is from Wagner’s Prelude to Das Rheingold. Seldom does anything in a film touch me so elementally.

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Evasive action

July 2nd, 2008 by jomo

While repairing a hail-damaged roof, I saw a pigeon whiz by at breakneck speed through the canopy of tree branches. In hot pursuit was a hawk, which had to give up the chase because it couldn’t maneuver through the foliage as nimbly as its quarry. The predator landed on a branch, rearranged some feathers, then flew back the way he had come, presumably to resume his prey patrol.

My friend Danny told me about reading that people who smoked tobacco were less likely to get Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. His electrician friend Donny said “Yeah – they all died.”

An website for word usage that I found interesting is The Double-Tongued Dictionary.

June 2008 was the warmest June on record for Austin, with an average temperature of over 89°F. Previously, June 1998 held the record.

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