Saturday, January 27, 2007

One more night

My flight home was cancelled – poo. That means one more night in the Lonestar State. Home of President Bush, the Alamo, and the car-garage-turned-drive-thru-liquor-store. Luckily we get a free night at a very posh hotel. The Westin. Here’s my quandary for the day – why is it that at the La Quinta and the Holiday Inn wireless internet is free, but the pricier hotels charge for it? This makes about as much sense to me as my $1.00 Twix yesterday.

Fortunately the delays in air travel have allowed me to solve another riddle – that of the Pappas. The other restaurant was Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. Tonight we ate at Pappasitos – a vast improvement over our experience in the feaux French quarter. Apparently all of the Pappas restaurants are owned by a family with the last name of Pappa (or Pappas, didn’t quite catch which). Two aspiring Pappa’s brothers took their mother’s deli from down-home to downtown and are now wealthy beyond human imagination. There’s also apparently a Pappa’s burger joint of some sort. All that’s required now is a memorial potato garden owned by the pope’s father (a little subtle and obscure Spanish humor for those who hablan).

My work has presented a missionary experience – I was asked yesterday if I knew whether I was going to heaven or not. This of course sparked a friendly debate with the old man who posed the question and whose halitosis suggested a less-than-standard education. Faith without works was mentioned; he told me a story about the point system in heaven, said hope was pointless and left with his free personal organizer. Chalk one up for nondenominational Christianity

Decision – women over the age of 35 should not be allowed to wear anything that reveals skin between the neck and the knees (with the obvious exception of the arms from the elbow down). Today a seeming modestly dressed woman came wearing a bright and uplifting hat complete with a sunflower and a cheery disposition. Danger, however, was lurking just below eye-level. When she arose to secure a cup of coffee a slit appeared in the back of her smock from the middle of her back all the way to the bottom of the garment – atrocious!

I got another free brownie today, in addition Delta airlines gave us hotel and meal vouchers in consequence of our flight being cancelled. What this means is that I may be able to get yet another free brownie. Three free brownies in two days – that’s luck.

On a more serious note – while I’m traveling the world helping those less forturnate discover the wonders of internet marketing, I find myself at a loss for the daily social interactions to which I have become accustomed. There is certainly not a dearth of human interaction, merely the child-like playfulness so comfortable to me when I’m surrounded with those I love. This does not mean that I’m unhappy in any way with my current employment situation or am saddened by the immense amount of travel I get to experience – on the contrary. It simply means that change has occurred. For the better or for the worse is yet to be determined. One thing, however, is for certain – I doubt whether I will very often take for granted those rare and quasi-celestial moments I spend with family and friends in seemingly mundane activities of quotidian life.


Because of my lack of free internet this will be a pre-dated blog. Like a post-dated check, only much less convenient when faced with a lack of available funds. Next week will be spent continuing to adjust to my new adventurous life in the Salt Lake Valley. Tune in the next week for more escapades from our nation’s capitol.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Walker ranged here?

As I sit here drinking my herbal tea and watching absolutely nothing on TV - how is it that there are so many channels and none of them are showing anything worthwhile? - I contemplate the meaning of life...or at least the meaning of a Twix candy bar costing $1.

To start off my day I solved a 4-star sudoku puzzle

This morning I forgot to grab the projector case as I left the hotel room, but didn't realize it until we had gotten to the conference center. Thus I got to go on a solo adventure back to the hotel. It was easy enough, I suppose, except for the fact that unless I get from point A to point B myself - I don't know how to get there at all. My manager explained the return trip to the hotel and I was easily able to follow his instructions. Along the way I recognized Mexican restaurants, Mexican beer stores, and Mexicans that were landmarks on the journey, but there came a point where I didn't recognize anything. I swerved, rather unsafely, across 3 lanes of traffic to a convenient store for directions - only to discover I was on the right track. So it was an adventure after all. I just now realize that swerving across three lanes of traffic perhaps isn't the greatest adventure I've ever had, but after passing the frontiers of flight museum on the return trip, I think adventures can appear when least expected and should be appreciated in all of their forms.

Lunch - Mexican food. I've found it's really easy to make friends with people here - I just speak Spanish and we're practically family.

My current reading endeavor is titled "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok. A recommendation from a friend who said it "changed [her] life." It involves two Jewish youngsters and the progression of their unlikely friendship - like the Fox and the Hound set in Brooklyn. Really a well written book with deep and profound - albeit vague - messages. The reason for mentioning this - I met a Jewish woman tonight who teaches sign language. Her husband's 3rd or 4th great-grandfather was Lazarus Snow - I'm pretty sure she meant Lorenzo Snow - either way...

Tonight's crowd included diabetic lesbian who wore a tie patterned with Elk and had to leave several times to use the facilities. For some reason I think she would have gotten along rather well with the Canadian Atheist my friend knows. Her traveling companion - a young man of the Caucasian persuasion - reminded me of my Disney room mate Rob the hero. Enough said.

Tonight may have been the highlight of my week. Aside from the glucose processing impaired woman of an alternate lifestyle (see how I was tactful there?), I got a free brownie. What could be better?

Eat at Waffle House...if you're in a location where waffle houses frequent the side of the road. Otherwise eat at Quiznos.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Gas here is under $2.00. Granted it's one cent less than $2.00, but still...

On my journeys around Dallas I've noticed that this place has more Mexican restaurants per capita than any other place on earth - including Cedar City. We went to one place yesterday that was a ghetto version of Cafe Rio, so like a Taco Bell trying to be Cafe Rio. It wasn't too bad - they had a salsa bar, but not worth returning.

Tonight we went to a Cajun restaurant called Pappadeaux. They serve Cajun food. We had fried alligator as an appetizer, then i attempted to be healthy with the rest of my dinner. I ordered water and a salad. Little did I realize that they've even contaminated the sacred health food of salad by frying the food in it. There was nothing mentioned in the description about fried anything. It mentioned orange flavored chicken, mushrooms, lettuce, sesame vinaigrette, so I was expecting a delightful array of healthy foods to fill my body and soul with joy. What I got was a plate with fried food and cabbage. The salad really consisted of shredded lettuce and cabbage with an occasional piece of zucchini or asparagus sandwiched in between two deep fried wonton type squares. The dressing was quite oily and the whole design of my healthy night was destroyed. However, my meal was better than what my cohorts ate - fried fish, fried shrimp, fried crap, stuffed fried shrimp, fried oysters, and french fries. Is it any wonder America's overweight? Along with the fried theme of the evening the restaurants of the vicinity could have been a category on $1,000,000 pyramid. There was Pappadeaux, Pappa's BBQ, Pappasitos, and another Pappa restaurant which I am currently unable to recall.

At dinner we witnessed the color of society gathered in one place. An man was eating dinner with a woman quite a bit younger than himself who was lacquered with makeup and was wearing enough support for a soccer team. We weren't sure if it was a permissive father with his daughter, or a businessman who'd had a successful day and was out to celebrate. In another corner the women of a black family was out to celebrate Mardi Gras early. They were complete with multi-colored head-dresses, dancing, and singing. I suppose it was appropriate that they were eating at the deep-fried haven of Dallas. We saw a couple who were part of what our speaker deemed "the lifestyle," there was an old white woman with a walker who we thought was about to whip out her hand-bag and beat the Mardi Gras party into submission.

I've managed to contract a cold while on the road - not so much fun. Sickness is less than delightful when one has one's own bed, remedies, and TV to comfort one. But when one is far from home staying in a hotel and without anything to do but work, even the convenient store where one might buy NyQuil fails to offer even the slightest appeals of home. I suppose the sleep-number bed will have to do for now.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Texas Toast

This morning I was witness to the fact that you're only as old as you feel. I saw a man in his 50's flirting shamelessly, blatantly, and unabashedly with a pair of women who were registering for the seminar. It was delightful, and refreshing to see that the young and young at heart can still work it like Donny Osmond at a 1976 roadshow.

For my Disney friends I met a man named Donald Dick. Talk about cruel. However it fits in with CP Pal Mickey, X-rated Pooh, and the unmentionable things which take place behind the scenes at the Magic Kingdom.


Tonight a rather masculine Russian lady came to the presentation. She kept saying things like "Do we get free dinner?" "We still get free meal no?" I felt sorry for the man she was with. A very clean-cut American boy who tried to have a sense of humor, but she wasn't letting it happen.

After shaking hands with people of all sorts for the last two days, I have contracted a cold. I don't like this - mostly because my throat is scratchy and it prevents me from sleeping soundly. I guess it's just part of life. On the upside, we're at a different hotel tonight and they have sleep number beds.

As a closing note to this day's activities - the roads in this part of Texas are rather unspectacular. Here's how they work - There's a freeway type road in the middle of a large shopping district, ya know shops, restaurants, the works. Alongside the freeway there's a frontage road - this is not especially unusual except that it's a one-way frontage road, and there's an accompanying one-way frontage road on the other side of the freeway going the other way. These roads are dotted with exits and entrances onto the freeway. Every now and again there's a bridge connecting the two sides of the freeway. How anyone gets around is beyond me. It took us about 15 minutes to get to the Costco because we took the wrong exit. We could see the Costco the whole time.

Anyone have tips for eating healthy on the road?
Oh, and I just heard that international trips require a two-week stay. Excitement times 4!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Deep in the heart

I have yet to see any big hair, big belt buckles, or big trucks. I think maybe the fascination people have with the size of Texas and its accouterments is misplaced. Unless, of course, the bigness of this quaint corner of the country lies in the outskirts of it's larger cities. And on that note I just saw a commercial where the man was wearing a cowboy hat - odd? Perhaps not, except for the fact that the man was a lawyer.

I had lunch at the Steak and Shake today. this takes me back to my days in Florida. We had a large Mexican youth as a waiter back in those days. He dripped sweat everywhere and that particular establishment seemed to be out of everything. Certain dishes, cheese, butter - we almost thought they'd run out of water. Today's experience was better. A delightful young waitress, greasy food, delicious shakes - fantastic.

Before lunch we had an adventure at Wal-mart. Our speaker bought brown shoe-laces for his black shoes, and my manager and I saw an aged woman who we surmised was trying to steal a bunch of green bananas. I observed that she might be the only person alive who Wal-mart security personnel could actually detain. She hobbled along using her shopping cart as a walker, head bobbing as the hem of her red jump suit pants remained a safe 6 inches above the floor.

Delving into this world driven by testosterone laden young men is quite an experience. The men I work with are all more than congenial and superbly friendly, just not the type of person I'm used to being around. It's fantastically entertaining for me. As is the fact that I eat out all the time. I think I may have a tough time keeping my trim figure with my new life on the road. I guess I'll have to get back to exercising.

The first two nights of this week I get my own hotel room. I figured out today that it's the handicap room. An extra peep-hole down low, extra wide doorways and a seat for the bathtub. Good times, good times.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It's all bigger here.

This week I'm in Texas. Now I haven't actually done anything in Texas yet except wait on the curb at the airport and have a bite to eat at the Denny's, but adventure - along with big hair and accompanying belt buckles - are just beyond the morning's horizon.

Along with this new job I have registered to be a substitute teacher so that in my weeks off I don't turn into a vegetable and wither away into an anti-social husk. This morning I took my first sub job at the Horizonte Training Center. The only reason I write about this as part of my travel adventures is because while there I felt like I was in another part of the country. It was one of those schools for "at-risk" people. A lot of the people there were actually there to get an education - something I think might be missing for our current public education system - so it was slightly refreshing. The coolest part of the day was that instead of a bell, buzzer, or beeper that lets people know when class is over, they used music. They played up-beat music, some even in Spanish. It was a fantastic way to spend the day.
I also finished "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. A fantastic and beautiful tale of the inner workings of the human soul, and the nature and character of the human heart. The language was a little elevated, but I recommend it to anyone in the mood for a moving tale and who isn't afraid of verbosity.

So, for the next five days I'll be in Texas - in my very own private hotel room. Woot.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Final thoughts from Arkansas

My first week is over. It was quite an adventure. I saw people with no teeth, people with gold teeth, people with gold hair, a man who had a pair of pants and a shirt that were made of the same fabric, and a woman put a name tag in her cleavage. I even got to watch dueling pianos in a smoke-filled lounge after having enjoyed a Cuban quesadilla and the biggest piece of chocolate cake I've ever seen. It was delightful.

Today a woman brought her kids, but they're not allowed in the presentation, so they waited out in the lobby playing games. For those of you familiar with "The Office" the young man was a young, well-fed version of Dwight. I laughed on the inside.

So my adventures begin in a state where I've never traveled. Land of Clinton, and home of Alltell Arena, a building no one knows how to get around in.

In two weeks I'll be in Mesquite and Arlington Texas...until then!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Day One

This was my first day of actual work. It's really pretty easy. I was right when I thought I'd be a professional gopher. That's pretty much what I do. Move boxes, fill out name-tags, get people comfortable, pass out forms, hand out free gifts etc. etc. etc.

With the exception of my mission in Argentina, I don't know that I've ever felt like more of a minority. Not only racially or religiously, but educationally, socially, intellectually. It's sort of a bizarre feeling.

One woman I met today was named Irma. She only had half her teeth, but not in the way you might think. All of her teeth were in her head, but due to poor dental hygiene they were all worn down about half-way.

During our lunchtime presentation we had two women come with their teen-aged children. The youngsters knew each other but it had apparently been awhile since they'd seen one another. About half-way through the presentation they left and came back a few minutes later slightly more disheveled, and a little happier...I love Arkansas.

A fascinating array of the men-and-women-next-door.
In my travels today I ate fried okra for the first time. It was quite delicious all things considered. I consumed it at a sizzler-esque buffet. Rather low-budget food, but not bad.

Unless something extraordinary happens, this will be my last post from Arkansas. Many adventures from the world over are sure to follow -

Let the madness ensue!

Monday, January 8, 2007

Every journey begins with a single step

As I continue my journey through life I have come to a crossroads. I am no longer a student. I have a full-time job, a degree, and a benefits package. My job requires me to travel a lot, so I'm starting this travelblog to record my adventures, misadventures, discoveries and observations of the wide world and its people.

This, my first entry, will be short but poignant.

My first escapade is to Little Rock Arkansas. Convenient that this Monday falls on national Man Watcher's Day. Therefore my travels had meaning and purpose today.

Being that this was my first trip with the company I flew out on a separate flight from the rest of my sales team, so I had time to really observe the men of the airport. Everyone from the invalid black man, to the young man wearing a small, but very don-worthy retro shirt. The friendly flight attendant and the maybe Mormon,
maybe gay man at the smoke filled restaurant where I had dinner.

There was also the rather fidgety man I sat next to on my flight from Salt Lake to St. Louis. I think he may have been a little nervous about flying.

Other than the fruitful man-watching of the day, it was uneventful. I got plenty of free peanuts, hot chocolate, cranberry juice, and pages read. I read the last 60 pages of "I'm Ok-You're Ok" - a good, albeit verbose book that encourages introspection to determine the cause of human action. And I read just over half of C.S. Lewis's "Screwtape Letters" - a book of letters from an experienced demon to his inexperienced nephew. I'll have lots of time for reading so if anyone has any suggestions, I'm open.

Well, that's all for today. My team is full of nice guys who are all about having a good time and working hard, so it should be a good week.

More adventures from Arkansas will most likely be forthcoming.