Thursday, April 22, 2010

The World Wide Web is a Dirty Rotten Liar

The guy who regularly schedules the play dates for my Stay-at-Home Dads group was away from his computer for a couple of weeks, so he asked me to fill in for him. This week, I thought I'd depart from the usual round of playgrounds and seek grander adventures. I spent an hour or two on Sunday Googlin' around, checking out event calendars on the City of Austin and surrounding towns websites, and checking out other activities sites like Free in Austin and Austin Bored Kids.

MONDAY: Bilingual Storytime. OK, this one wasn't actually the Web's fault. It was exactly what, when, and where I thought it would be, but it turned out that Thumper had no more patience and attention for a bilingual storytime than he's had in the past for monolingual storytimes.

TUESDAY: Peter Pan Mini Golf. It's stunning to me that in this day and age, a business doesn't have a website. The Citysearch page didn't list operating hours. Austin360 said it "generally" opens at 9:00 a.m. I didn't call to verify the hours, because it never occurred to me it would be closed at 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday. Guess what? It was. "Generally" opens? Stupid South Austin hippie businesses...

WEDNESDAY: Georgetown Firefighter Museum. OK, this is where the Web really starts telling some whoppers. assured me that I would find "Betsy, a prized 1922 Seagraves fire engine in mint condition" and that "[t]he station is still used as the city’s main fire station." After the Tuesday mix-up, I decided on Wednesday morning to call and verify, and it turns out that it's no longer a working station, Betsy has been moved elsewhere, and the "museum" is essentially a bookshelf in some administrative offices. "I don't want to tell you not to come," said the nice lady who answered the phone, "but..." So we went to a tried-and-true standby, the Georgetown Creative Playscape instead, where Thumper aggravated a three-year-old boy by steadfastly refusing to take direction.

THURSDAY: Austin Zoo. The train that's supposed to run every hour on the hour and which was a big part of Thumper's excitement while he patiently sat through the long car ride there, wasn't running today. Their website says: "Concession stand is open March 1 - June 1 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays" so we didn't bring lunch, planning to eat hot dogs and Frito pies instead. It was closed. And neither of the vending machines would take my money, so when Thumper was suddenly and very emotionally hungry, there was nothing to eat. And the peacocks that Thumper found so fascinating last year were instead terrifying this year. And he tripped and fell flat on his face, busting his lip open. OK, most of that wasn't the web's fault, but still...

FRIDAY: The Cathedral of Junk. This one sounded pretty cool. Turns out, though, that it's been closed by the City of Austin. The owner, Vince, says in his answering machine message that he's fighting with the city, but until it's resolved, he can't let anyone in to see it, though you can "peek over the fence." Doesn't sound that enthralling for a two-year-old, so we'll have to think of something else to do tomorrow.

So out of 5 events, not one was the thriller I was looking for. I relied on the internet, and it let me down. The moral of the story: call ahead, and don't throw together a schedule at the last minute on Sunday night. The end.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It Still Doesn't Get Me High

I got up at 5:15 this morning, which never happens. Then I went outside and ran continuously for 6.2 miles. It took me 1 hour and 9 minutes. I now know that I will be able to finish the Longhorn Run. I won't be the fastest guy out there, but I'll finish, and that's pretty huge. A year ago, I didn't think I'd be able to run the three mile loop around our neighborhood once without stopping, let alone twice! I feel pretty good!

Maybe I should've done this on a a day when I could afford to take a nap, though.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Physical Therapy

There are at least a couple of reasons I'd love to blog about my evening at the arena, but I won't because I'd rather not be dooced. Things were said that should not be repeated, as much as I'd like to repeat them. So instead, I'll tell you about my physical therapy.

I just finished my third of four weeks of physical therapy for "rotator cuff tendonitis," probably resulting from repeatedly hoisting my giant toddler son onto my shoulders when he doesn't feel like walking in a straight line. It wasn't a tear, but might eventually have torn if I'd kept up the same activity without trying to make a change.

Most of my physical therapy is about "engaging my core" (man, I hate abdominal exercises) and adding back and upper body exercises to strengthen all of my other muscles so that the annoyed part of my shoulder can get a little help and a little rest. If I'm stronger everywhere else, that one spot in my shoulder won't be left to do all the work while my other muscles relax and have a cappuccino.

As much as my shoulder, though, my physical therapist is intent on fixing my posture. Apparently, I'm well on my way to walking around like a Mystic from the The Dark Crystal. On first meeting me, my physical therapist asked, "Your wife is much shorter than you, isn't she?" Yes, both of the two most important people in my life, with whom I interact most, are shorter than I am, such that I spend a good part of my day looking down. And it shows in my posture. Supposedly my ear is supposed to be directly above my shoulder and not several inches in front. Who knew?

So my posture exercises are: pelvis tilted and abdominals engaged, as if I'm about to be punched in the stomach. Shoulders back, but not raised. Chin down and back, so that my ears are in a straight line over my shoulders. The result is sort of roosterish. While I worked tonight, in a spot that was exceptionally boring where I spent most of the evening sitting and staring at a wall 8 feet in front of me, I practiced my posture exercises. I'm sure I looked ridiculous. There is nothing natural about this posture. Also: chin down and back is not a comfortable position for someone who grew a beard specifically to help de-emphasize his double chin, thank you very much. But my physical therapist, who has called me her "star pupil" and gushed about my progress, would be proud. I'm trying, people; I'm trying.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Extremes of Ushering

Sorry I haven't had much to say lately. Apparently being happy and tired doesn't inspire me to blog.


It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Or, it was the worst of ushering; it was the best of ushering. Or maybe more like, it was the hardest of ushering; it was the easiest of ushering.

I'm tired. I should be copywriting, but I'm tired. I've worked 18 hours of ushering and 4 hours of repetitive, non-creative writing this weekend, and tomorrow the week starts over. I'm takin' a break.

What was I talking about again? Oh yeah. Ushering. Yesterday was the most exhausting ushering event I've ever worked. It was an outdoor event, in lots of sun, with non-stop walking and stair climbing, plus the psychological drain of repeatedly doing the same task over and over, knowing that I'd just have to do it again. We were understaffed; the event was oversold; and the crowd was uncooperative. On a day when I needed assertive ushers with loud voices and lots of confidence, most of my staff were temporary workers, and most of those were timid, young, and physically unimposing. I spent many hours with my skin and my brains cooking in the sun, walking back and forth in an outdoor stadium, clearing stair landings, walkways, and aisles of people. There were ushers at each of those spots whose job it was to keep it clear, but they weren't up to the task. So I'd clear one, remind the usher there to be assertive! but friendly! then move on to the next one, knowing that the spot I just left was already filling up with people again.

There were three supervisors in the stands on that side of the stadium, but apparently the other two got together and voted that I was in charge. One of them handed me the radio. "You don't want it?" I asked. "NO!" she laughed. So it was my name that the radio kept calling, telling me that the fire marshal wanted those areas cleared, telling me to get out there and do something. So I cleared them. And cleared them. And cleared them. And vowed, when I got home, that I would never work that event again.

But when I woke up this morning, and Thumper was bursting with excitement over the Easter Bunny and what he brought, and we three shared a special breakfast, and the sunburn that was so red yesterday had significantly dialed down its intensity, my attitude had improved enough that I was thinking the event had even been sort of fun, in its own way. And I wrote for awhile, then went to work again, this time ushering a free exhibition event. It was also outdoors, but in a shady spot on an overcast day. The work was easy; the crowd was happy. I stood in one spot and welcomed people as they entered; I thanked them for coming and wished them a good evening as they left. I had one usher working for me; she did her job cheerfully. She welcomed people as they entered; she thanked them for coming and wished them a good evening as they left. She never wandered off or complained. And it was so quiet and boring, and the clock ticked so slowly along, that I almost wished for a little excitement, for the radio to call my name, telling me to get out there and do something.
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