O’Hare After Dark

I’m here in O’Hare Airport tonight, waiting to catch a late flight home.  So far, at least, no one has assaulted me or tried to bodily remove me from a seat — but my adventure is not yet over.


There’s definitely a surreal quality to O’Hare after dark.  It’s an enormous facility, designed to accommodate huge throngs of passengers, so when night comes and the crowds have seriously thinned out, the solitary traveler is almost overwhelmed by the vast spaces.  There was a guy playing a solitary saxophone at the end of the walkway leading to Concourse 3, and his echoing notes perfectly captured the kind of lonely feeling that is created when you’re traveling alone, through oppressively large, impersonal spaces that make you feel swallowed up and almost nonexistent.

There’s no better advertisement for the pleasures of “home” than O’Hare after dark.

Knocking Around Austin

Austin lives up to its rep.  So far today we’ve explored the River Walk area, where the joggers and dog walkers roam, and checked out the downtown area and Texas Statehouse grounds. The weather is cooperating, too — warm but not too warm, with a little cloud cover and a decent breeze.


The Austin River Walk, which runs along the Colorado River and Lady Bird Lake, isn’t quite as elaborate as the San Antonio RiverWalk, but it’s a pretty area that obviously is well used by every Austinite who wants to get a little exercise.  It’s part of an extensive park system that includes a cool map of Texas and lots of room for dogs, kite-flying, and general lounging.


The Texas Statehouse grounds, as the top of the hill on Congress Street, are also interesting and attractive.  In addition to the impressive dome and the expected memorial to the heroes of the Alamo, shown below, I also caught an impromptu performance of a big, and impeccably attired, mariachi band, shown above.  When I walk by the Ohio Statehouse on my way to and from work every day I don’t often hear traditional mariachi music.

Live On Sixth Street

Everybody knows Austin has a thriving bar and live music scene.  Last night we started our pub crawl in the very cool Rainey Street area, which I’d never visited before, stopped to have a beer at the Container Bar, which is largely constructed out of those enormous corrugated containers used by the shipping industry, then legged it up past Stubb’s to a bar called Cheer Up Charlie’s, where a kind of light show projected against a white bluff entertained us.  After noshing at Stubb’s we headed over to Sixth Street, the traditional strip of bars and live music venues that keeps getting bigger — and louder.  

Around Austin you see people with t-shirts that say “Keep Austin Weird,” or something like that.  After our foray through Sixth Street, I’d say that goal is being accomplished.  You see people wearing flags as capes, masks, wigs, glitter, and just about any combination of clothing, or lack of clothing, you can conceive.  On Sixth Street, you can still freely let your freak flag fly.

Important Photo Tips

Somewhere out in the world there are people who like to have their picture taken.  Perhaps they are models, or just selfie-obsessed narcissists.

nikonsmashed-700x445Then there are those of us, like me, who hate to have our pictures taken because it always is a depressing, illusion-destroying experience that instantly makes me resolve to go on a severe diet and begin an aggressive workout regimen.  My passport photo, for example, makes me look like a cross between a homeless person and a bloated zombie whose had far more than his share of living brain tissue.  It’s amazing that the immigration officers of any country, including the U.S., that look at the photo would allow me to enter.

Is there anything that can be done?  (Anything, that is, other than actually losing weight and becoming more “toned” so that multiple chins aren’t evident when the shutter clicks?)  Fortunately, according to professional photographers, there are some simple, immediate things you can do when you get your picture taken to make you look slimmer and therefore better.  The pros say, for example, that you should stand at a 45-degree angle to the camera.  Don’t squish your arms against your body.  Stand up straight and don’t slouch.  Be sure to wear dark colors.

And above all, keep your chin our and hold your tongue against the roof of your mouth, which is supposed to tighten your neck muscles and therefore reduce your multiple chin count.  Having the photographer to take the photo from straight on, or from an angle slightly above your head, also is supposed to cut down on overexposure of that unslightly, bulging neck flesh.

So there you have it!  There’s no need to actually work out — just stand ramrod straight an at an angle, keep your chin thrust out like Mussolini, and always appear with arms akimbo.  Dodging the camera works pretty well, too.

Sunrise, Sunset

When you go on a beach vacation, oohing and aahing about the sunrises and sunsets is an ironclad requirement.  There’s something about the combination of sun, clouds, water and a distant horizon that just grabs you — especially if you’re a landlocked Midwesterner.

Here at our resort in Belize, the sunrise part is easy.  Our cottage faces east, and when Old Sol peeks over the horizon you notice it immediately.  Step outside the front door, walk out onto the beach, and voila! 

The sunset requires a bit more work.  Just to the west of our resort is a kind of inlet, with small islands and plants dotting the surface.  You have to walk off the resort property, cross a dusty road, and stand and wait.  In some ways, it’s more visually interesting than the ocean.  Quieter, too — without the crashing surfing you can hear the birdsong and the lapping of the rippled water.  It’s a striking setting.

We’ve really enjoyed our trip to Belize, which ends today.

More Puppies

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Richard and Julianne are getting a new dog in the near future.  It’s a Lab that has been bred and recently gave birth to a litter of three puppies — who are now two weeks old — and the breeder sent us this photo of the pups.

It’s kind of shameless to post pictures of puppies, but I just can’t resist it.  Is there anything cuter than puppies?

Misty Morning Shimmer

Morning walks around German Village can be a feast for the senses.  On days like today, where lingering traces of pre-dawn fog hug the ground and leave a glowing sheen on the brick roadways, you feel like you might just live in a mystical land.  

Those bricks look great on these kinds of mornings, but be wary — they’re death when sleet or freezing rain come to town.