Skeeter Time

IMG_4132We sat out last night as the sun went down and talked until the fireworks began.  It was prime mosquito time, and like everything else in Texas those insect bloodsuckers apparently are grossly oversized.

So enthralling was the conversation that I didn’t realize that the San Antonio mosquitoes were draining approximately 3 gallons of blood from my carcass.  Our Greco-Roman statuary looked suitably ghoulish as she presided over the bloodletting.  When I woke up this morning I discovered a bunch of angry red welts on my legs and my back, and tonight they are itching like crazy.

Two Bumper Stickers Means They’re Serious

Yesterday, walking around our neighborhood, we strolled past a vehicle — a pick-up truck, of course — that had not one, but two “Don’t Mess With Texas” stickers on the rear bumper.

IMG_4052I don’t plan on messing with Texas during my stay here, so I should be okay.  But, I found myself wondering:  isn’t two “Don’t Mess With Texas” bumper stickers at bit excessive?  For that matter, what is it that makes Texans so darned proud of their state?  Is it the enormous size of this place?  The fact that, unlike other states, at one time it was an independent country?  The oil wealth?  Its recent economic success at a time when other states were struggling through the Great Recession?

Whatever the source, it’s clear that Texans are perfectly willing to boast about their state.  They display that pride on their t-shirts, their hats, and the bumper stickers of their cars.

It’s not what I’m used to up north, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  In fact, I think that other states would do well to channel their inner Texan and develop a little more state pride.

I can’t imagine “Don’t Mess With Ohio” bumper stickers, but I wouldn’t mind it if I saw one now and then.

The Fatal Glass Of Beer

IMG_4140Root beer, that is.  Because if you’re in San Antonio, you’ve just got to go to Schilo’s Deli and try their most excellent root beer.  Even if you don’t like root beer.  In fact, even if you don’t like liquids.

Served in a frosted mug, it is rich and dark, yet light and creamy at the same time.  It tastes like they’ve already melted vanilla ice cream into it.  It goes great with their excellent bratwurst and spicy brown mustard, or their split pea soup, or anything else on the menu you’d care to name.

Fortunately, Schilo’s limits you to one free refill on the root beer orders.  Otherwise, most of us would be drinking this stuff until we explode.

A Noble Place To Stay

IMG_4092During our visit to San Antonio we are staying on the second floor of the Aaron Pancoast Carriage House, in a bed and breakfast arrangement.  On trips like this we look for an alternative to hotels if possible, and Kish did a great job in finding this place.

I’m a fan of old hotels, but when you’re staying somewhere for more than two days they can begin to feel cramped and sterile.  Under those circumstances, the bed and breakfast can offer some real advantages.  You’re in a real neighborhood, rather than a downtown hotel district, and often that allows you to get a more rounded perspective on the town you’re visiting.  It’s also nice to camp out in a place that has a refrigerator, a large common area where we can spread out and read, and other agreeable amenities.

IMG_4051Our lodging here is one of three locations owned by Noble Inns.  All of them are located in the beautiful King William Historic District area of San Antonio (more about that later).  The district is on the RiverWalk, which means we’re just a short stroll away from downtown.  It’s nice to be able to walk rather than driving, and we’ve taken advantage of that convenience.

We eat our breakfast in the lushly decorated Oge House.  It’s got a historic landmark sign outside, and inside it has all of the fantastic carvings and moldings and nooks and crannies that make me marvel at how unique these old homes were, and how soulless and cookie-cutter our modern homes have become.  It’s a pleasure walking in the front door and eating a home-cooked meal in the dining room.

We stay in the carriage house found right across the street.  It’s a pleasant place with one huge advantage:  a fantastic pool complete with statuary that makes you feel like you’re hanging out at a Roman villa.  I am not much of a pool person, but when you’ve been walking along in 90-plus degree heat and bright sunshine it’s nice to take a dip in cool water and then find a shady spot for some reading and conversation.  The Romans knew what they were doing.IMG_4093

Father Of The Mouse

Most of us use one just about every day.  We roll it along the surface to guide that little arrow around the screen.  It’s how we point and click, edit our work, and drag and drop.

It’s the mouse, of course.  We take it for granted, but it didn’t always exist.  It had to be invented, just like every other manufactured item that has become an accepted part of our everyday lives.

In the case of the mouse, the inventor was Douglas Engelbart, who died this week.  He filed for a patent for the mouse in 1967 — describing it as a device that allowed the user to alternate visual displays at selected locations — and received one in 1970.

The early mouse was a clunky wooden object with two wheels, three buttons, and a cord coming out the back like a mouse’s tail.  After the patent was granted, other companies began experimenting with Engelbart’s invention, and by the 1980s the mouse had become an accepted part of every home computer kit sold at technology stores.  In the process, the design was modified and the bulky wooden mouse morphed into the sleek plastic item that conforms comfortably to our hands and that we now use without a second thought.

Engelbart’s colleagues considered him a visionary.  He also came up with far-sighted concepts concerning computer networking, digital collaboration, and video teleconferencing that the computer types consider to be even more significant than the mouse.

They may be right, technologically, but from a social standpoint it would be hard to top the impact of the humble mouse, which helped make computers accessible and usable for bloggers, and Facebookers, and other average folks like us.  We thank you for that profound contribution, Mr. Engelbart, and we will remember you.