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All posts for the month November, 2018

On my master list of parks, I say that not all of the parks in the San Antonio area are actually owned and operated by the City of San Antonio. This is one of those other parks, which is owned and operated by Bexar County. And it’s quite a bit larger than I expected it to be. The entrance to the park is on the access road for Loop 410 so I figured I could cover it in 15 minutes. I stayed for almost 45. I was also there late in the day, so many of my pictures are slightly overexposed.

One of the playscapes at McArthur Park.

McArthur Park has several picnic pavilions and a bit of walking path, but the main feature of the park seems to be playgrounds. The park has three of those playscapes where all of the equipment is connected into one big sort of piece of park furniture and there are additional pieces of playground equipment including swings and a small monkey bar thing that looks like a flying saucer. I found that last one particularly interesting, but couldn’t take pictures of it because there were someone’s kids on it and taking pictures of other people’s children is considered to be kind of creepy. Maybe I’ll return someday and get a picture of that.

Have you played the “You are Jeff Bezos” game? The point of the game is to demonstrate just exactly how much $156 billion is. You wake up as Jeff Bezos and you decide that maybe if you spend all of his money you can get back to your own life. I’m not 100% about the things that the game designers think are priorities. For example one of the options is to revive Mythbusters. I’ve seen like two episodes of Mythbusters and have heard of a bunch more and I’m just not a fan. I’ve just never believed that the five-second rule really means that it takes five seconds for germs to attach to an item dropped on the floor. It’s more a winking “if you fix it fast enough it never happened” thing, I think. So watching two guys drop things on the floor and measure the germs on it just doesn’t seem like gripping television to me.

sad turtle, mcarthur park, san antonio

Concrete turtle in need of repairs, 2018

What I would like to spend a bunch of Jeff Bezos’s $156 billion on is fixing up parks. And McArthur had a bit of stuff that I’d like to fix. For example there are several pieces of concrete art that need a bunch of TLC. The paint is peeling (or has peeled) off and in several cases there are actual chunks of concrete missing. I really do wonder how much it would cost to paint and repair those poor things, if Bexar County would take a donation for that purpose, and if I could write it off of my income taxes.

Now I need an Amazon link. Does Amazon have some kind of “pick a random book” feature? I guess I’ll try to come up with my own. So, searching for “Parks” and sorting by customer reviews, the first result is Urban Trails: San Francisco: Coastal Bluffs/ The Presidio/ Hilltop Parks & Stairways by Alexandra Kenin. I guess that’ll hold me for this post, particularly since seeing the San Francisco area is years away at this point unless this blog thing really takes off or I win the lottery.

So they’ve announced that this coming weekend (November 30 through December 2) is going to be the December 2018 Community Day and the focus Pokémon is going to be all of the Pokémon featured all year. That’s (in no particular order) Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Eevee, Dratini, Cyndaquil, Mareep, Beldum, Larvitar, (Oh, dear God, I’m missing someone. But who? I’m actually looking at a picture. Oh! Duh!) and Chikorita (Chikorita is the only one I’ve got enough candies to make another Meganium with Frenzy Plant as soon as the weekend starts).

Community Day is traditionally a three-hour period when, one Pokémon is the focus. If you evolve a the focus Pokémon to its final form (sort of — maybe I’ll talk about Pikachu and Eevee here, maybe not) you get a specific moveset. Like February’s Community Day was Dratini and if you evolved a Dratini or Dragonair into a Dragonite during that time, the resulting Dragonite would have the move Draco Meteor.

Community day is going to be all weekend, day and night, so I’m starting to strategize. I basically missed January through May (I missed January through March entirely and didn’t bother doing the research into what, exactly, we were trying to do for, like, April and May, so I might as well not have bothered). And then in June, Community Day came on the day that Thomas and his apparently-soon-to-be-second-ex-wife (I guess I’m saved from having to give her a pseudonym, though I guess I’m now free to give her an unflattering one if I want to) were having a graduation party for Alex. Thomas invited me, so I showed up but was kind of uncomfortable (that’s putting it mildly!) so I took off after a couple of hours. I stopped at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment in San Marcos (writeup to follow someday) to catch some Larvitar. I was at Thomas’s house for so long that I just missed the deadline to get the target move and ended up with a different one. The stars aligned for July through November, though, so those are a low priority.

My first priority is fixing my June mistake and getting a Tyranitar with the correct moveset. So, since I only have 19 Larvitar candy (I need 125) I’m walking a Larvitar right now (Well, not *right* now, since I’m writing this post *right* now). I’m off tomorrow (November 28) so I’m going to try to earn some more Larvitar candy and maybe I’ll tackle one of my missing parks. Maybe I’ll hit Macarthur Park, because it’s pretty conveniently located (along Loop 410) and looks pretty small and easy to tackle on my way to or from one of my more regular haunts, like the River Walk near the Pearl.

Not a whole lot of Community Day Pokémon are spawning right now, so stocking up on candies is a bit more of a challenge. I did catch a Mareep in a raid the other day, though. And I caught another Chikorita on my doorstep tonight, Maybe I’ll luck out and I can get some of the candies I need. Like right now I’m only 7 Mareep candies short and only 25 Dratini candy short. Those would be pretty easy to make up if I’m lucky.

And if I tackle a new park, I have something new to blog about as well.

And, finally, I am going to have to really apply myself to monetizing this thing. I’m having a hard time coming up with travel money anymore. I have Amazon open right now looking for just the perfect thing. Maybe I’ll have to blog about Pokémon stuff later and make a list of things that seem pretty likely to put in as ads in those posts. Anyhow, it’s after midnight now and I’ve got my final Shedinja (Yay! I dug up a pretty relevant (I think?) Amazon link for this post) for November waiting for me.

By the time you finished reading that post header, you probably fell asleep. And I don’t mean for a nap. I mean for the night. My Foreign Language Project needs a punchier name than “My Foreign Language Project.”

Well, while I mull that over in a new window, I guess I should finish this post. Yep, I’ve been working on my foreign language project for two years now and so far I’ve put aside about $1,200. I’m averaging about $1.70 a day, which is still short of my goal. If I want to reach my goal by the time I’m the age my mom was when she died, I’ll need to average $2 per day. And if I can get up to an average of $2.50, I’d have time to actually get the degree by the time I’m that age. Today I put aside $2.66 so maybe I’ll hit $2.50. We’ll see.

So right now I’m focusing largely on listening to Spanish-language music and paying myself $0.015 per minute. I’ve been listening to a *lot* of Spanish-language music. I currently have Robarte un Beso (YouTube link) going in yet another window (I love multitasking computers). It’s a great song and the video is mostly very sweet. When the other girls push Juliana towards Mateo (the middle-school storyline) it bothers me. Juliana should have . . . oh, dear God, what’s the term? I always have trouble with this one. Sexual autonomy! That’s it! Juliana should be able to choose whether to be flattered or creeped out or find it kind of threatmantic or whatever on her own without others pressuring her into it.

I’ve been focusing on my Spanish to the exclusion of other languages for a while now, though, so I’ve swapped out Spanish for English-speakers on Duolingo for Spanish for Chinese-speakers (because, of course, there’s no Chinese for Spanish-speakers — that would be too easy). I will hit the proverbial wall at some point, because my Spanish is, like, immeasurably better than my Chinese.

I also applied for another Rosetta Stone language through my employer. I wanted to firm up my Italian or German, but neither were available. So I opted for another new-ish language — Russian. I don’t know how much use it’ll be, but I’ve always wanted to learn Russian (ever since I discovered that it was one of my great-grandmother’s languages). I said that I didn’t want to start until December, though, and I haven’t heard anything after I filled out the “why do you want to learn this language” form. I’ve got a little while until December. And if it doesn’t work out, well, it’s not the end of the world.

Speaking of Rosetta Stone, I planned to, in 2018, buy about six months’ worth to study either German or Italian, then let it lapse, then resubscribe for about six months to do the other. I ended up doing neither. Maybe in 2019?

And speaking of things I didn’t accomplish in 2018, I intended to return to foreign language tutoring but I never did so. I was the foreign language tutor for my junior college back in the late 1980s. I tutored both Spanish and German. I’m just glad none of the French students needed tutoring. So that’s another goal for 2019, I guess.

Now I’m off to research god and goddesses of knowledge in hopes of finding a good name for this project. Or maybe not. It’s after midnight, so I guess I’m going to bed now.

9:00 We’re still in the parking garage. We emerge into the sunlight at 9:09. Now where are we? I see the letters GB in neon and the number 225. Not enough to go on. Yet. I see the words “General Thaddeus Kosciuszko,” which is the name of a street. So we’re on Olive Street right now heading southwest-ish. This couple can really dance, but I sincerely hope that those are some version of cheerleader “spankies” under her skirt. We make a left onto 4th Street. We go a block and then everything starts to look different from how it looks in Google Street View, but the view behind the dancer matches, so we’ll assume that we’re still on 4th. We cross Broadway and then make a right. I panicked for a moment when we could see a sign that said “4th Street” behind the 9:24 again, but then we passed what was a Walgreens in January of 2017 and a sign that said “5th Street” and I knew that everything was all right.

9:28 Our dancer is a woman in a motorized wheelchair or scooter of some sort. As we reach the intersection, Beattie heads a little to the south and I thought that we were going to turn. Nope. He was walking down the curb cut so that she could use it as well. That made me smile.

9:32 We are now filming a guy carrying a pizza. Is he a delivery guy? Is it his pizza? Is he doing a favor for a friend? We don’t know yet. He does make a left onto 7th, though. And he starts dancing with the pizza. I hope he’s not a delivery guy because that pizza is definitely not held level throughout. He holds the pizza out to some people he passes. Maybe he’s selling the pizza? At any rate, he puts it down and then makes a left onto Spring Street. I hope one of the crew (from what I’ve read, there are like 15 people involved at any moment) is watching the pizza. Boy, Downtown LA has big blocks.

9:36 We’re somewhere else now. Let’s find out where. We’re still on Spring Street between 6th and 7th, still going the same direction, even. But we’re on the other side of the street. We then turn right onto 7th and head northwest.

9:44 We’re just all over the place today. We have the word “Tower” and a sign that says “8th Street,” so it looks like we’re at 8th and Broadway headed northeast on Broadway. If you ever get invited to dance in a video, you can’t go wrong with The Pony. If I had more intestinal fortitude than I currently possess, I would go back and figure out exactly how many dancers are doing The Pony in this thing.

9:50 This kid is a good dancer. Also, there’s another police car.

9:52 Another small kid with better moves than I’ve ever had. Don’t know where we are yet, though. She passes a Famima!! (yes, the exclamation points are part of the name) store. I think I see the Los Angeles theater in the background, which means that we’re still on Broadway. Yeah. I think we’re between 5th and 6th on Broadway.

9:56 Let’s find out where we’re going to spend the hour between 9:56 and 10:56. I can see a sign that says Cesar E. Chavez Drive. Another sign says “Mozaic.” That ought to be enough to go on. We’re now near Union Station on Union Station Driveway, near as I can tell. And then we dance our way right into the station. Let me guess that this is where Pharrell will turn up next. I love train stations. I guess I know one place we’ll be going the next time we’re in California.

Believe it or not, Union Station is just within the boundaries of our polygon. So now our polygon is 21.64 square miles.

Also, this is when I realized that Pharrell has to be between the Alexandra Hotel and the next building over in his 1:00 am appearance. You can see the arched windows of the building at 5th and Broadway behind him.

10:00 I guess that 10:00 will have to go with 9:00. All hour, the dancers have stayed in or near Union Station. They occasionally have walked outside of Union Station, but no one has actually left the property.

10:56 Let’s see where we go next. I wish I could read the name of the street in the background there. It’s a short name and the first letter looks like maybe an “M”? There’s something that looks like a convenience store there on the right. We head down an alley and I still haven’t been able to identify anything. I can see the word “shop” one of the windows. Maybe it’s a barber shop, maybe it’s a tailor shop. I guess we’ll find out.

So I’ve decided that rather than futzing around with a map (and my spellchecker liked “futzing.” Who knew?) I’d just copy the list from the city website. And messing with the list makes me think that maybe futzing with a map would be easier. Dear God.

Ultimately, once I remove all of the formatting and the extraneous stuff like addresses and photos, I’ll maybe bold the ones I’ve been to and change the colors of the ones I’ve written up? Or maybe pretend I’m using a highlighter and turn the ones I’ve been to blue and the ones I’ve written up green or purple? Or maybe use pink and orange, so that it looks less like links. I think I like that.

So ultimately,

Friedrich Wilderness Park

Will turn into

Friedrich Wilderness Park

once I’ve visited it and

Friedrich Wilderness Park

once I’ve written it up?

Should I pick a different shade of orange?

Friedrich Wilderness Park

Yeah. I like that darker orange better.

Now, once I’ve cleaned up the list what should I do with it? For reasons I don’t understand, school playgrounds are on the list now — this makes me a bit nervous since, well, school property. I think I’ll remove them from the list as I go.

Should I put them on my “about” page? Add a new “about”-type page for this list? Make it a blog post with a special tag?

I think that probably the new “about”-type page would be best so that *I* can find the list pretty easily. I don’t want to lose it and then have to recreate it again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go remove photos from the “L”s.

P.S. It just hit me. Once I’ve finished this list and all of them are orange, I’ll have to go back through the official city list because I’m pretty sure that they’ll’ve added new parks in the however-long it takes me to go through the whole list.

This is what’s known as job security. Or would be, if I were making any money from this yet.

I’m finally getting back to posting these and I owe it all to J. Balvin. I heard his song “Safari” (that is a YouTube link; this is the Amazon link) on the radio and the voice of the man singing “Vente conmigo. Solo conmigo” sounded so damn familiar. And it turned out to be Pharrell Williams, which reminded me why Pharrell’s voice sounds so familiar. This project.

Lots of people dancing up the river for the first hour but not many landmarks, so we’re getting two hours for the price of one here.

Next up, the rest of 6:56, followed immediately by 7:00.

7:00 We’re on the Los Angeles River now and likely to stay here for a long time. Looks like after 7:04 we start walking north along the river. At around 7:19, we pass a sign that says “Equestrians prohibited” which makes some kind of sense, since the horse chestnuts would probably be difficult for bikers to avoid. But then we pass a “horse crossing” sign and now I’m totally confused. I also don’t buy that this is 7:00 am because (a) the direction of the shadows makes me think that the sun is to the west, and not the east, and (b) cars are actually able to drive on the 5. If I recall correctly, by 7 am traffic is at a standstill on the freeways.

7:56 We move to the actual river itself, rather than the bank. It looks like the place where they filmed the race scene in Grease. And it doesn’t just look like it. This is the same place. The bridge in the background is the 7th Street Bridge in Grease, and today there’s a kind of low-lying building with lots of windows up on the bank. You can see the same building (or a substantially similar one) on Google Street View. Stretching that corner of the polygon out that far brings us to 21.58 square miles. So now we have 163 Hours of Happy.

8:00 We’re still in the LA River. This part of the river has a current. I was not expecting that. Pharrell walks down the dry edge of the river, up the berm under the next bridge, and around what looks to be some homeless person’s shopping cart. Hey, loving a city requires you to accept some of the less pleasant aspects (even if you aspire to change them). We end up in some kind of tunnel.

8:04 So this is fun. We dance through that tunnel and out onto the street. You can see that we’re near a bridge, but fuck if I can tell what bridge we’re near. Finally, after 8:08, we dance past a sign saying “590santefestudios.com” so I use that as my signpost to find our location. The closest bridge to that sign is the 4th Street bridge, but that wasn’t right. So I did some digging and found that the 6th Street bridge wasn’t demolished until 2016. So it was still there when the video was made. So I hit Google Street View, and there, in November 2015, is the bridge. And there, from under the bridge, is the building that our 8:08 dancer is passing. Then I took a step forward and the bridge and building are both gone. I couldn’t find the exact spot again, but I found one close to it and went back and forth “Now they’re here” “Now there gone” for a while. That’s always fun to do on Google Street View.

We make a left onto Willow (the building she dances past is still there in October of 2017). She covers a lot of territory in her four minutes. I didn’t expect her to get nearly as far as she did on Willow. We make a right onto Mateo and then another right onto Palmetto and a left onto Santa Fe.

8:20 We’re at a bridge again. What bridge? Dunno. Wait. We’re at the 4th Street bridge. How do I know that? Because with the disappearance of the 6th Street bridge, I was looking around the 4th Street bridge back at 8:04 and I recognize that building behind the dancer. We then follow Santa Fe Street northwards-ish to Mateo, make a right onto Mateo and then a left onto 4th Place, I think?

8:24 We skip ahead a bit to Molina Street and make a left and then a right onto Palmetto and then another right onto what I think is probably Colyton. “Colyton”? That looks like a typo, but it’s really the street name.

8:36 We return to Hollywood for the appearance of some kind of fighter or other (Youtube comments say that it’s Urijah Faber?) and a young woman who is apparently his sister. We start on Argyle Street just north of the W hotel and make a right onto Hollywood Boulevard.

8:40 I don’t know. Probably back where we were before on Colyton, I guess? No, we’re definitely somewhere else. I see the number “500” and the word “Enterprises” but unfortunately they’re on different buildings. This is no help. Oh, good. “Enterprises” is apparently 439. Wait. We are still on Colyton, only at the other end of the street. And, yep. There’s “Enterprises” on Google Street View. The other side of the sign reads “Lidderdale.” We make a left back onto Palmetto.

8:48 Now where are we? Okay. Now we’re going down Hewitt, which we skipped before for some reason. I wonder if the road was blocked off before. Huh. There’s a police car back there. I wonder if he (or she; can’t tell at this distance) has noticed our little guerrilla music video. I used to have long hair and it never swung like that. It always kind of moved in a big chunk. Does the 8:48 dancer use any kind of product to get that or is she just lucky? I go back and forth between watching her hair and watching that police car, which pulls to a stop right behind her as the song ends. I wonder if we find out what happened next? Well, I guess the police officer was just parking. We get to the intersection of Hewitt and 4th and then turn back around and head back up Hewitt. At 8:55, the 8:52 dancer goes right past that police car and we can see that it’s a sheriff’s car. For what that’s worth.

8:56 We’re somewhere else now. I see a sign that looks like it says “Music Center” with an arrow pointing left. And upon looking it up, it seems that “Music Center” is something that a sign in Los Angles might say, so we’ll go with that. Another sign that says “Grand” and Grand is a street near the Music Center, so we’re making progress. We’re shooting looking up at this dancer for some reason. I just accidentally found our location. We’re in an underground parking garage at 4th Street and Grand Avenue. I wish I could figure out why Google Street View will suddenly send me underground or beneath streets when I don’t mean it to, even if it worked out in my favor this time.

I have a three-day weekend coming up November 9 through 11. It seems a shame to waste it hanging around in San Antonio* but I have an 17.5-year-old cat who I just boarded for the weekend of October 19 through 21 and so it’s too soon to board him overnight again.

So I really should stay pretty close to home. Like less than a three-hour drive. A map with a circle with a radius of 180 miles lets me go up Interstate to West (and thus includes Austin, Waco, and San Marcos), out east on Interstate 10 to the outskirts of Houston, includes quite a bit of the coast, including Corpus Christi, out west on Interstate 10 to Ozona, and south on Interstate 35 almost to Ozona. I can also go into Mexico as far as Anahuac (?).

I wonder what’s worth seeing in Zaragoza, Mexico. Um . . . There’s a waterfall.

I could stretch it a bit, I guess, and go to Houston Or maybe San Angelo? There’s got to be more to do in San Angelo than there is in Zaragoza.

While typing this, I’ve been playing a YouTube playlist I’m building based on the Latino radio station that I listen to and it’s on shuffle. It keeps replaying the same songs, so it’s probably bedtime pretty soon. But I need to at least send out my Pokémon Go gifts before I can go to bed.

There’s a state park in San Angelo (with the creative name of “San Angelo State Park,” believe it or not). That might be worth a trip. I may have to bring Alex in on this one. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know where, if anywhere, we decide to go.

*Speaking of hanging around in San Antonio, I need to get back to writing up the parks but I’ve forgotten where I left off. I’m considering buying a big map and posting it on the wall and highlighting all of the parks I’ve written about. But where would I post it, I ask myself. I guess I’ll let you know what I decide about that, too.

*Also because it’s the end of the first day of NaNoWriMo and I haven’t written a single word yet.

I’ve been doing work  with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk project for a few years and the thing I’ve been doing most often are surveys. I’m certainly not going to make my fortune doing this, but it gives me something to do when I’m bored and I’m making about $10 a year at it and if I can keep it up for another 100 years or so (!) it should add up to something fairly respectable.

The surveys, once in a while, ask me to check a box to prove that I’m not a robot and I’m, like, what if I am and I just don’t know it? Would I be able to plead that I’m not a robot, I’m an android? Or would that be splitting hairs?

Of course, I’m reasonably certain that I’m neither a robot nor an android and most of that certainty has to do with medicine. I mean, how many androids have wheezy lungs that respond well to albuterol and whose wheeziness can be prevented by daily doses of budesonide and formoterol? I mean, okay, “formoterol” does kind of sound like “for motor oil,” but that’s just a coincidence. I hope.

I’ve always been very mucousy in general (and my spell-check doesn’t like “mucousy”but Wiktionary has my back) which I don’t think that androids would be. I have produced so much mucus in my life that when I found that one of the key signs of cystic fibrosis is that people with cystic fibrosis taste salty because their sodium channels malfunction, I licked my arm. I’m not salty, by the way. Also, I’m older than 50 and the odds of a cystic fibrosis patient born when I was making it to 50 are slim.

Besides, I have humans who can attest to the fact that I have human insides. I’ve been cut open four times, I think (if having impacted wisdom teeth removed counts, then five) — a pilonidal cyst removal during my adolescence, a c-section, implantation of a subcutaneous chemotherapy port, and a lumpectomy.  Oh, and removal of my sentinel lymph node, but that was the same time as the lumpectomy, so maybe that occasion would be four and a half?

At any rate, that’s lots of witnesses — three surgeons**, at least three other doctors assisting, nurses and Thomas. He didn’t intend to see me cut open, but when he went to see Alex for the first time he forgot that I was cut open and when he turned around to come back to my side, there I was in all my glory. He found the process of them sewing me closed really fascinating, by the way. I’m sure if I were an android someone would have said something at some point. “Why are we cutting this android open? Androids don’t even (get pilonidal cysts, get pregnant, get cancer)?”

So, until it turns out that androids *do* get pilonidal cysts, get pregnant and/or get cancer, I’m going to continue attesting that I’m not a robot.

** The same surgeon did the lumpectomy and the port placement.