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.

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